Tag Archives: treatment programs

Preventing Opioid Addiction Goal of New Michigan Surgical Initiative

doctor prescribing opiatesMichigan, like other states, has been hit hard by America’s drug epidemic. A team from the University of Michigan (U-M) is taking action against a key factor in the problem: opioids being prescribed to patients both before and after surgery.

The Department of Health and Human Services will be providing a grant of $1.4 million in funding per year over each of the next five years ($7 million total funding), which will be matched by U-M. The team will be launching an initiative that will help doctors and hospitals across Michigan address surgical patients’ pain without putting them at high risk for becoming new chronic opioid users, misusers or addicts.

Michigan Opioid Engagement Network Will Prescribe Fewer Narcotics

The program, called the Michigan Opioid Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN), has set as its goal to reduce the number of opioids being prescribed to Michigan surgery patients by 50 percent. It also wants to lower the number of patients still using opioids several months after surgery by the same rate.

Based in the U-M Medical School and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, Michigan-OPEN will work with existing networks of hospitals, doctors and nurses across the state. The team will be working with 12 of these networks to understand and use best practices for managing pain for their patients, which includes using opioid pain medications wisely.

“Surgeons prescribe nearly 40 percent of opioid painkillers in Michigan, but have few resources to guide them on best use of the drugs by patients before and after surgery,” according to Chad Brummett, M.D., who is of Michigan-OPEN’s three leaders and the director of the Division of Pain Research in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology. “We hope that by working with surgical teams across the state, we can fill that gap for the benefit of individual patients and our state as a whole.”

According to U-M researchers, approximately 10 percent of patients who weren’t taking opioid medications before they undergo surgery become dependent on them after the procedure. This dependency can open the door to misuse and addiction to prescription and illegal drugs.

How Michigan-OPEN Will Help to Prevent Addiction

Opioid abuse in Michigan is already a widespread issue that costs the state nearly $2 billion each year. Mortality rates are increasing faster than in other states. Michigan-OPEN will move quickly to distribute evidence-based information and advice to health care teams and treatment programs statewide.

Special attention will be paid to patients currently on Medicaid insurance. Patients in this category make up 12 percent of those having surgery, but account for close to one-third of those who develop a post-surgical opioid dependence.

Michigan-OPEN will also work with patients who are already taking opioids prior to surgery. A U-M study has found that care for these patients costs nine percent more than for patients who did not use opioids before their procedure. It also resulted in more complications and readmissions than for patients of similar age, health and insurance status.

Michigan-OPEN teams will work with patients and their healthcare team to create strategies they can use to reduce the number and level of opioids being prescribed and dependence on these types of drugs. One strategy that can be implemented is for surgeons to discuss pain management expectations and concerns with the patient before surgery.

How Mindfulness Enhances Recovery

practicing mindfulness in recoveryThere is a growing body of research showing the benefits of incorporating mindfulness practices into many parts of our daily lives. Recovery is no exception, as it has been shown to be particularly helpful in preventing relapse and improving overall mental stability.

Sometimes there are some misconceptions of what mindfulness really is, as people may think it is only a part of an Eastern religion. While it definitely has roots dating back 2,500 years or so in that foundation, it is not limited to any particular set of beliefs at all.

The definition of mindfulness is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Practicing being aware of things in the moment can be extremely helpful in addiction recovery in many ways, whether those situations are initially positive or if they are threatening in some way. For example, if a person is experiencing a drug or alcohol craving, through a deeper awareness they are able to see themselves through it as it passes rather than falling prey to the transient reactive impulses. They are able to withstand the craving with more ease each time as they become less affected by the sensations that arise during such episodes. Treatment programs that incorporate some form of mindfulness practice will become more sought after.

It is also helpful in building longer-lasting stability by being more in tune with one’s thoughts and feelings and paying more attention to daily tasks, especially those that bring warmth or pleasure. These may include time with family, playing a sport, creating something artistically or simply enjoying yourself on a vacation. These positive experiences can have a greater impact the more aware of them we are, and help us to focus more on the good things in life rather than the bad things.

One mistake many people think is that if they do it a few times then that is sufficient, but mindfulness is a practice that should always continue, and the longer that it is, the more effective it will be with regards to recovery as well as general happiness. This continued practice helps bring us more out of the realm of past upsets or future anxieties and helps us to maintain more balance in the continuously present moments of each day.