Could Alternative Medicines Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic?

There has been a spike in interest in alternative pain treatments such as yoga and massage. When integrated with conventional medical treatments, they can help people cope with pain. According to a study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, these treatments might help stem the tide of opioid abuse. The study suggests that pain reductions through these treatments may lower dependence on opioids and thus reduce the risk of opioid abuse.

In a 2014 study, 75% of people who abused opioids in the 2000s said their first exposure to opioids was a prescription medication. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended doctors curb their prescription of opioids for noncancerous patients. But drug addiction can happen even when doctors provide careful supervision.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School wanted to assess the role of alternative medicines in managing pain. They analyzed 32 studies of alternative pain treatments. These included:
• Yoga
• Acupuncture
• Relaxation techniques
• Nutritional supplements (such as glucosamine and chondroitin)
• Massage therapy

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