Non-narcotic pain therapies could ease addiction epidemic

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It is not difficult to see the impact of our region’s drug abuse epidemic.

A record level of overdose deaths, babies born with opiate addictions, rising rates of hepatitis and other diseases top the list of direct health consequences. Meanwhile, addictions leave a trail of broken families, crime and neglect that touch almost every household.

Dealing with all those issues is no easy task, but it also is critically important to address some of the root causes of the problem. And one of those is pain.

Despondence and hopelessness always have contributed to drug use, but much of the opiate epidemic begins with actual physical pain – from cancer to back injuries – and the prescription drugs used to treat that pain.

Not only do some patients develop an addiction, but overprescribing has flooded the region with powerful pain pills that are too often diverted to abuse. Once hooked, some of those users turn to the cheaper and more dangerous streets drugs such as heroin.

Isn’t it time to get serious about exploring non-narcotic treatments for pain?

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin certainly thinks so…

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