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The Lede, Notes on Winning The New Opium War

The Lede, Friday, April 6, 2018
By David Royse

Good day.

On this day in 1869, the first celluloid plastic was patented.

The LEDE
Notes on Winning The New Opium War

Yesterday, I relayed some advice from the nation’s Surgeon General: If you think you might encounter people who could OD on opioids, carry naloxone, the OD antidote drug.

I’ve often written here that I’m less interested in presenting stories about problems, and more interested in stories about actual, concrete solutions. Naloxone, I guess, is sort of a solution, in the very, very short-term. Yesterday’s Lede also included a link, to a story more about the problem, however, noting that New Jersey is on pace for its worst year ever in terms opioid overdose deaths, and presumably other places may be in a similar trajectory.

But after I hit send yesterday I started thinking: has anyone out there hit on any working solutions? Its not like people aren’t trying to solve this problem. Is anything working?

So today I want to offer a story that Colorado Public Radio and Kaiser Health News published a little over a month ago. And it indeed, highlights an idea that might have some promise. It won’t solve the whole problem, for sure, but it might help.

It’s not sexy, it’s not some new futuristic pain relief modality you’ve never heard of, or some magic law enforcement idea. It’s basically a story about doctors rethinking the way they treat pain, and returning to some old practices.

From the story

“Ten Colorado hospitals, including Swedish in Englewood, Colo., participated in a six-month pilot project designed to cut opioid use, the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative. Launched by the Colorado Hospital Association, it is billed as the first of its kind in the nation to include this number of hospitals in the effort.

The goal was for the group of hospitals to reduce opioids by 15 percent. Instead, Dr. Don Stader, an ER physician at Swedish who helped develop and lead the study, said the hospitals did much better: down 36 percent on average.

‘It’s really a revolution in how we approach patients and approach pain, and I think it’s a revolution in pain management that’s going to help us end the opioid epidemic,’ Stader says.4

The decrease amounted to 35,000 fewer opioid doses than during the same period in 2016.”

Here’s the full story. Other hospitals and medical practices should be looking closely at this. For a more detailed look at .the program, here’s the consortium’s official report

Whole and Crushed Pills, Needle, Spoon, Opioid Abuse

THE FOLLOW
Less Pill More Chill?

I also wondered about alternative therapies for debilitating pain, and whether there’s anyone experimenting with those in an effort to reduce narcotic pain medication prescriptions. And there are a couple. The research results are scant on whether most of the alternatives I have in mind actually do anything (think Eastern remedies, movement therapies, even mindfulness, and other such things usually deemed New Agey and ineffective, or just plain dumb by many in the Western medical establishment). But crisis has a way of opening up people’s minds to more ideas, and so that’s how you get veterans in wheelchairs doing Tai Chi.

Also from Kaiser Heatlh News, just today:

To Treat Pain, PTSD And Other Ills, Tennessee Vets Try Tai Chi

From that story:

“This idea of going beyond prescriptions — and especially beyond opioid painkillers — has been a key focus of the VA nationally….According to a national survey from 2015, nearly every VA hospital now offers some kind of alternative health treatment — like yoga, mindfulness and art therapy.

“Zarita Croney, a veteran with the National Guard, said tai chi has helped her, too, with chemical dependence. She now makes the nearly-two-hour drive from Hopkinsville, Ky., to Murfreesboro each week, and has reduced her use of opioids for pain..

“My whole life … revolved around, ‘Oh shoot, when can I take my next pill? When can I take my next pill?’” Croney recalled. “I’ve gone from about 90 percent of my day being on my bed to being able to come out and be social.”

But overall, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of research being done on alternative therapies to treat addiction or reduce dependence on pain medication. I found just one very preliminary study on equine therapy that showed it might help people stay in a drug treatment program, but it certainly couldn’t be called definitive.

Art and music therapy, hypnosis and accupuncture are offered by a number of rehab programs, but there’s been little rigorous research into their benefits, either.

NUTBALLS STAT OF THE DAY

Opioids could kill nearly a half million people in the United States over the next decade if current trends continue. STAT

ONE OTHER INTERESTING HEALTH STORY

Does Coffee Help Your Workout? It depends on your genes

NOTES FROM THE AGE OF DISRUPTION: 

Amazon
Could decide on its second HQ soon – and Columbus, Ohio likes its chance. Columbus Dispatch

Business DNA
Is a new magazine in Afghanistan that wants to focus on profiles of successful Afghan companies. NiemanLab

Sirin Labs
Has created a blockchain-based phone. Bloomberg

MORE BUSINESS AND TECH NEWS

NASA’s X-Plane Could Revive Supersonic Flight for the Masses. Wired

And those early tech startups that sometimes looked like dorms or frat rooms? Fortunately, that trend is ending

And, if you missed it,

The U.S. may slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese products, President Trump says.

And that’s sending stocks lower.

Finally, if you thought you’ve had some bad business trips, see how they compare to this guy’s

Have a great weekend.

Got something you think I should cover here? Drop me a note: @daveroyse on Twitter or dave.royse@ledetree.com

We’d also love it if you’d follow us on Twitter and on Facebook for LedeTree news throughout the day.

About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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