Medication Transition Program
Dependence: Physiological and Psychological
Even when opioid medications are taken appropriately, patients can develop physiological and psychological dependence. Because patients typically develop a tolerance for opioids, they require ever-increasing doses in order to obtain the same effect, which can lead to increased side effects and health problems. When patients attempt to discontinue their use, they typically experience a withdrawal syndrome: a set of uncomfortable physical symptoms that make it difficult to decrease one’s dose.
In order to facilitate decreased use of opioids, we at BAPWC have developed a program that not only creates a safe, comfortable , supportive environment for making this transition, but also provides education and experiential practice of other methods of managing pain. Wellness and psychology sessions can assist in lowering stress and calming the nervous system. Physical therapy can teach patients safe ways to increase their strength and mobility to improve their physical functioning. Acupuncture can facilitate the detoxification process and nervous system regulation. Patients in our Medication Transition program also attend lectures provided by the psychologists , physical therapists, physicians, and nutritionist in order to learn more about chronic pain and new healthy habits.
While a patient may take his or her medications for pain exact ly as prescribed, one side effect of opioids is often a numbing of emotiona l experience and blunting of cognitive functioning. Conversely, as patients decrease their dosage, they often experience emotional “rawness” (anxiety, irritability , tearfulness) and mental overwhelm. It is therefore important that patients also be supported in processing thoughts and feelings that arise through the transition process using individual psychotherapy and art therapy as well as Wellness groups focusing on methods of relaxation and meditation.
Interdisciplinary treatment for medication transition improves patient outcomes and decreases the risk of regression into poor functioning and return to increased medication use. Without training in a variety of painmanagement skills, patients have greater difficulty not only with the process of decreasing medications but also with improving functioning after the transition. At BAPWC, we want to equip people to be able to achieve their goals of reducing their medication use and improving their quality of lives.
BAPWC has established itself as a treatment leader by offering our cutting edge opiate deto xification program utilizing buprenorphine (subutex ®, suboxone®) to manage opiate withdrawal symptoms . Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate agonist medication that is FDA approved for treatment of opiate dependence and addiction.