Findings were recently published on a study of a mindfulness based intervention for chronic pain and opioid misuse.
To test the treatment, 115 chronic pain patients were randomly assigned to eight weeks of either MORE or conventional support group therapy, and outcomes were measured through questionnaires at pre- and post-treatment, and again at a three-month follow-up. Nearly three-quarters of the group misused opioid painkillers before starting the program by taking higher doses than prescribed, using opioids to alleviate stress and anxiety or another method of unauthorized self-medication with opioids.
Among the skills taught by MORE were a daily 15-minute mindfulness practice
“People who are in chronic pain need relief, and opioids are medically appropriate for many individuals,” Garland said. “However, a new option is needed because existing treatments may not adequately alleviate pain while avoiding the problems that stem from chronic opioid use.”session guided by a CD and three minutes of mindful breathing prior to taking opioid medication. This practice was intended to increase awareness of opioid craving—helping participants clarify whether opioid use was driven by urges versus a legitimate need for pain relief.
It’s important to note that this may be a very useful option for non-addicted opioid misusers with chronic pain.
They are also trying the model for smoking cessation. It’ll be interesting to see their outcomes.
It’ll also be interesting to see if more non-pharmacological treatments for pain, either as adjuncts to medication or as stand-alone treatments. Facing chronic pain is a concern for most recovering people I know, especially recovering opiate addicts.