New Tool in the Battle Against Opioid Addiction Could Be Mindfulness

New Tool in the Battle Against Opioid Addiction Could Be
Mindfulness

Researchers have found that a mindfulness-based therapy, including savoring natural rewards, can help patients with chronic pain and opioid addiction.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

More than 20 percent of American adults suffer from chronic pain. And as many as one in four of those prescribed opioids to manage that pain go on to misuse – or abuse – them, often with devastating consequences. Patients afflicted by both chronic pain and opioid addiction are especially difficult to treat, according to Eric Garland, PhD, Director of the University of Utah’s Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development, because opioid overuse increases pain sensitivity, and pain promotes relapse among those being treated for addiction.

A new study, however, shows that a mindfulness-based therapy can successfully tackle both problems at once, pointing to a tool that could potentially help in fighting the opioid crisis. “This is the first large-scale clinical trial to show that any psychological intervention can reduce opioid misuse and chronic pain for the long term,” says Garland, lead author of the study, published February 28th in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Lori Miller Kase
Lori Miller Kase, an award-winning journalist based in Connecticut, writes frequently about health, the environment, food and the arts. She is Health Editor at Large for CoveyClub, and her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Discover, Aeon, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe Magazine. She also teaches creative writing for kids, and is currently working on a young adult novel.
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