Could Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Be an Alternative to Opioids for Chronic Pain?

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Chronic pain is a condition that has confounded physicians and the medical community at large for years. It was instrumental in the hastened approval and subsequent over-prescription of powerful prescription opioids, and one of the factors that has created the public health epidemic that we are currently experiencing. As more and more Americans succumb to opioid overdose, medical professionals have been ramping up research efforts to provide viable alternatives to opioids for chronic pain; recent study on cognitive behavioral therapy published in the November issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Practice suggests that they’re a step closer in this endeavor.

The study suggests that Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used effectively to treat chronic pain, either as a stand-alone treatment or with other non-opioid pharmacological treatments, citing safer application and improved outcomes for mood and quality of life.  Researchers hope to further refine pain-related CBT treatment to explore the neurological roots of the condition. For years, addictive prescription painkillers have been the prevailing standard for the treatment of this condition; however, researchers and clinicians hope that CBT will one day be a viable and effective alternative to opioids for chronic pain; there is mounting evidence to suggest that this day is getting closer and closer.

The race to find viable alternatives to opioids for chronic pain treatment grows more urgent each day. By eliminating one of their chief uses in a clinical context, we may be able to start systemically curtailing their overall use and subsequent abuse. Clinicians should consider employing CBT-based treatment techniques as stand-alone treatments or in conjunction with other treatment modalities in cases of chronic and sub-acute pain to improve treatment outcomes. In addition to increased treatment access and enforcement efforts against bad actors, finding better ways to mitigate chronic pain must be part of the overall prevention plan against opioid addiction.

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