Integrative Therapy Shows Promising Alternative for Opioid Overprescription

The photo of fentanyl (a synthetic opioid as much as 100 times stronger than heroin) by Joe Amon accompanied Jesse Paul's November 30 story for the The Denver Post. 


In June 2016, in the face of wide use of opioids, American Physical Therapy Association launched a campaign to promote physical therapy as an alternative pain treatment.

A year earlier, the insurer Kaiser Permanente started offering a "alternative pain treatments, medications, pain management classes and counseling, and at-home options" for chronic pain. According to a November 9, 2017 story by Colorado Public Radio's health reporter, John Daley, Colorado members can take an eight-week course for $100, which aims to educate high-risk opioid patients about pain management.

Daily writes that big systems like Kaiser can afford to run programs like this [and  have the desire to do so.]  Barriers besides size include insurers which won't pay for alternative treatments and those who demand separate payment streams for different kinds of care. 

In California, in addition to Kaiser's programs, those insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (which operates there as a non-profit) and Med-Cal  have options.


Would such program also help those who get addicted because they like the high or are in psychological pain? It seems like the programs could lower the number of scripts and thus meds available illicitly.

And, maybe, the integrated approach might help such folks, since, for instance the Colorado team includes not only a physical therapist, but a doctor, a clinical pharmacist, two mental health therapists, and a nurse, all in one facility.  There is also access to exercise, meditation, acupuncture and mindfulness, in addition to a chemical dependency unit for medication-assisted treatment.