Thursday, March 06, 2014
To the editor:
I have been following your coverage of the crisis of opioid overdoses in our community with interest and concern. As a clinical psychologist in independent practice and at a local community mental health clinic I, too, have seen an increase in numbers of clients presenting with opioid abuse and dependence. Most of these individuals’ problems with the drug began after receiving a prescription for a pain-related problem.
In Rebecca Everett’s Feb. 27 Gazette article, a number of prophylactic measures were identified, including District Attorney David Sullivan’s priority of educating health care providers about when opioid painkillers should (and should not) be prescribed.
Another avenue of potential interest to providers and patients are psychotherapy interventions for targeting chronic pain. For example, one such treatment is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy with strong research support for treating chronic pain. It has been demonstrated in clinical trials to decrease suffering, increase the quality of life and increase the level of functioning for people with chronic pain.
To learn more about ACT or to find a local ACT therapist, go to the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science website at contextualscience.org. Best of all, with psychotherapy, there are no side effects or addiction potential, and the beneficial effects persist long after the therapy is completed.