Opioids have been widely accepted not only as prescriptions for pain but also for use as an anesthetic for surgery. Unfortunately, opioids have become so widely abused that they are no longer considered a magic bullet solution for either situation.

Not only do physicians now want to limit the use of opioids in surgical procedures, but patients who fear drug addiction or who have been in addiction recovery would also prefer an alternative. Fortunately, a new study reveals that there may be other ways to address pain management without the use of opioids.

The Dangers of Using Opioid-Based Medication for Surgeries

The amount of opioids that are now prescribed and consumed in this country is overwhelming. According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 13.6 percent of Americans have abused opioids in the past year, up from 8.6 percent in 2000.

Because opioids produce feelings of well-being and euphoria, they are likely to be abused. In addition to the abuse potential, their use has side effects. Even when administered by an anesthesiologist for surgery, opioids can result in post-operative nausea and fatigue. In some cases, a state called “hyperalgesia” will occur, which produces a heightened sensitivity to pain. This demands greater use of opioids to control pain, which increases the risk of drug addiction.

New Study Suggests Pain Management Alternative to Opioids

TEAMHealth Anesthesia at Select Physicians Surgery Center in Tampa, Florida has released a study aimed at calling attention to alternative uses to opioids for surgical procedures. The single-center study followed more than 1,000 patients who had neck and head surgery without the use of opioids for general anesthesia.

Instead of opioids, such as fentanyl, patients received a combination of ketorolac, sub-anesthetic ketamine, lidocaine, and magnesium, depending on the patient’s health and age. Post-surgery, just 11 percent of patients experienced nausea compared to the normal 50 to 80 percent. Also, 64 percent of patients did not need any further post-op pain medication.  Prior to the study, most of the surgeons prescribed 50 hydrocodone pills for patients for post-op pain. Now, they prescribe just five pills, if any.

Personalized Opioid Drug Addiction Treatment is Available

According to the authors of this latest study, 90 days post-surgery approximately 1 in 15 patients are still taking prescription opioids. Not only is eliminating opioid use during surgery beneficial for patients but also curbing their use for post-surgical pain management can prevent abuse issues.

If you or any of your loved ones have become addicted to opioids, either after a surgical procedure or through some other means, you are not alone. Opiate addiction is a serious medical disease that is deadly if not treated appropriately. The Recovery Village offers personalized and comprehensive drug addiction treatment that includes medical and therapeutic interventions.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.