Saturday, October 29, 2016

Can Mindfulness Help to Intervene with Our National Opioid Epidemic?

A new federally funded research project will attempt over a five-year period to demonstrate that mindfulness  will reduce a person’s craving for opioid painkillers and improve the ability to cope with the intense pain for which these drugs are most often prescribed. There is evidence already that mindfulness can have some impact on managing pain. (Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.) Here is the essence: The research will attempt to restore restoring brain levels of endorphins in patients with chronic back pain who are being treated with prescription opioids. This, in turn, will make it potentially possible to reduce addiction occurrence rates. The subjects will be military veterans who suffer with more pain, trauma, and serious problems with opioid addiction. The advantage of the research will be to extend its benefits and approach to opioid addiction treatment to other people in the general population. Here's what to do: 1) Check out this news article here. 2) Follow the research 3) Find and find out what they are doing and whether you can apply these techniques to supplement recovery and follow-up work if you are currently working with recovering addicts. This is a non-medical, non-invasive approach, and I would not hesitate to consider whether these approaches might help addicts, frankly, because prior research from the same researcher shows that mindfulness has an impact on some of this stuff. This researcher should be posting a twitter account or updates that can be tracked by the general public. Consider: "Prolonged opioid use changes the way the brain functions, leading to heightened pain sensitivity, insensitivity to natural pleasure, and vulnerability to addiction—factors that may result in opioid dose escalation, which can end in overdose and death. Based on the results of previous research, Eric Garland, Associate Dean at the University of Utah hopes that with this grant he will find evidence that mindfulness meditation training through this research will restore proper function to the brain’s opioid receptors.