Pain medicines of the narcotic (more properly termed opioid) classification can be very beneficial in reducing pain and improving function in people suffering from short-term or chronic pain. These medicines can have a profoundly positive effect in this regard. Narcotic medications also bring with them certain risks of impairment, abuse, or other risks to society at large, however. It is thus very important that these medications be used properly and that the prescribing physician and patient develop a relationship based on openness, education, and trust.
To help facilitate an appropriate and trusting physician/patient relationship, it is important that any potential for negative impact of these medicines be identified. Risk factors or prior history of addiction or medication dependence should be discussed openly before and during treatment with pain medications. Ongoing risk and functional assessments, periodic urine drug screening, and drug agreements are routinely used to help ensure the safe and effective use of opioid pain medications.
The active chemical in cannabis (marijuana) is THC and has been used, in some settings, for pain relief or other medicinal purposes. It has received a great deal of attention in Colorado, lately. Cannabis remains a Class I substance and is illegal according to the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The medical providers at Denver Back Pain Specialists WILL NOT prescribe narcotic or other controlled substances to anyone actively using marijuana or THC or alcohol.
Letter to our patients, dated 8.1.2016:
The risks associated with opioid pain medication use have become a huge problem for our society. A few people die every minute from the overdose of opioids. Many times, this is because of use above the amounts prescribed, or because the medication was combined with alcohol or benzodiazepines such as Valium, Klonopin, Xanax or similar medications.
We are dedicated to keeping our patients safe! That is why we are taking a tighter stance against the use of alcohol with prescribed opioid medication, and ask that patients tell us immediately if another doctor prescribes benzodiazepines.
We are now asking that patients not drink alcoholic beverages when prescribed opioid medications. Also, depending on your level of risk or amount of daily medication taken, we may require that you fill a prescription for naloxone (an opioid reversal and life-saving drug given as a nasal mist) and inform family and friends on how and when to use it. We have also updated our drug agreement to reflect these changes. SEE BELOW FOR NASAL NALOXONE (NARCAN) INSTRUCTIONS.
Thank you for partnering with us in your care.
J. Scott Bainbridge, M.D.