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Substance Use Disorder and Pain Management

March 2, 2023
The pain specialists and behavioral health clinicians at KindlyMD have the experience and expertise to guide patients who struggle with substance use disorder.
The pain specialists and behavioral health clinicians at KindlyMD have the experience and expertise to guide patients who struggle with addiction.

At KindlyMD, our pain clinicians see a wide range of patients, including some who live with a substance use disorder.  

We recognize that substance use disorders and addictions can be treated successfully with patient-centered, “whole person” care. 

Pain clinicians like ours must give special consideration to someone dealing with both chronic pain and a substance addiction. 

“Providing pain control for the 5% to 17% of the U.S. population with a substance abuse disorder of some type presents primary care physicians with unique challenges. When these individuals experience pain, they are less likely to receive adequate pain management than individuals in the general population,” wrote the authors of a 2002 study called “Successful Pain Management for the Recovering Addicted Patient.” 

In cases like these, it’s crucial to provide effective pain relief options without contributing to the underlying addiction. Fortunately, our pain specialists and behavioral health clinicians have the experience and expertise to guide patients who struggle with addiction. 

Here are some of the ways KindlyMD helps its patients manage pain and break the cycle of drug dependence. 

It Starts with Listening 

During a patient’s first visit to a KindlyMD clinic, we’ll spend time getting to know that person and their needs. We’ll discuss the patient’s medical history, the medication(s) they use, and the reasons the patient requested our services.  

This conversation helps the patient’s care team achieve one of its first goals: “to meet you where you are.” In other words, we listen to each patient’s needs and provide appropriate treatment options for his or her unique circumstances.  

We want our patients to feel heard, understood, and cared for in all their experiences with KindlyMD.  

Proper medication management is vital for patients with a substance use disorder.
Part of our medication management strategy is to help patients reduce or eliminate unnecessary or potentially-harmful medications.

Medication Management and Substance Use Disorder 

"Medication management” means overseeing a patient’s prescribed medications, ensuring they’re used correctly, and achieving the desired therapeutic results. This process requires special considerations for patients struggling with pain and an addiction or substance use disorder. 

Thankfully, our prescribers have the knowledge and experience to develop effective plans for maximizing pain relief while minimizing addiction potential.  

One strategy, called “tapering,” involves gradually reducing the doses of a potentially-addictive medicine. Tapering allows the patient to begin using safer alternatives to dangerous prescriptions without suffering from withdrawals. 

Behavioral Health Services and Substance Use Disorder

Living with chronic pain and a substance use disorder affects a person physically and emotionally. Many pain clinics address their patients’ physical concerns with drugs and other therapies but fail to address the emotional aspect. 

“You really need both a prescriber and a behavioral health clinician embedded at the point of care to accomplish better outcomes for patients,” explained KindlyMD founder Tim Pickett, PA-C during a recent presentation on dangerous prescription painkillers. 

As mentioned earlier, we believe the ideal approach to healthcare means treating the “whole person,” not just symptoms like pain. This is why we chose to integrate behavioral health clinicians into the services we offer.  

Our behavioral health clinicians listen closely to our patients’ healthcare goals and develop strategies to help them succeed.  

People with a substance use disorder often find plant-based medicine makes a great substitute for more dangerous substances.
Many of our patients lead happier, more fulfilling lives after replacing potentially harmful medications with plant-based medicine.

Plant-Based Medicine 

Modern medicine provides us with a wide variety of treatments for managing chronic pain. This variety allows pain management clinics like ours to develop a personalized treatment plan for each of our patients. 

Many patients find natural, plant-based alternatives to traditional pain medications very effective in treating pain. Herbal medicine can also be useful in weaning a patient off potentially dangerous medications and other substances.  

The “Deprescribe” Movement 

If you’re living with chronic pain but worry about the potential of becoming addicted to painkillers, we’re here to help. One of our goals is to help our patients eliminate medications that no longer work or potentially cause harm.  
Our experience has taught us that “deprescribing,” under medical supervision, often leads patients to a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Let us help you achieve that same goal. Call 385-388-8220 or click here to book an appointment with KindlyMD. 

By David Wells
Content Producer & Analyst at KindlyMD
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