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A New Study Finds a Promising Alternative to Opioids for Pain

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a combination of Advil and Tylenol can be as effective as opioids for treating pain in emergency room patients. The clinical study of more than 400 patients found that Advil and Tylenol, or ibuprofen and acetaminophen, reduced pain at a rate comparable to other combinations that included opioids.

This study has several important implications. The first is that people recovering from opioid addiction may have more treatment options when it comes to medical procedures. Recovering addicts often worry that taking medication as part of medical interventions will lead to relapse. As a result, they may avoid the intervention entirely, or try to tough it out with over-the-counter medicine or nothing at all. Having new, non-addictive ways of treating pain could remove that impediment to getting proper healthcare.

A broader implication is that recovering opioid addicts may not have to endure as much pain in general, beit from headache, accident or whatever. Typically, ibuprofen or acetaminophen alone is sufficient for occasional pain, but in cases where they aren’t, the combination may be another option to consider before administering drugs that may trigger relapse.

The study doesn’t shed much light on whether the combination of drugs might help with chronic pain. Chronic pain is what leads many people to prescription opioids in the first place and it can remain in recovery. Another, non-addictive treatment option would be great, but chronic pain is different from the pain emergency room patients would experience so this study may not be relevant in that regard.

Another possible implication of the study is that emergency room doctors may administer opioids when they aren’t actually necessary. That is, perhaps in many of the cases where opioid painkillers were administered, the patients’ pain would have mostly subsided on its own or with an over-the-counter pain reliever. It’s hard to fault emergency room doctors with erring on the side of caution when it comes pain management. Administering painkillers in the hospital is the most responsible way to do it, with the least risk of addiction. It’s possible, though, that if opioids are unnecessary for some emergency room procedures, they may not be necessary for other kinds of procedures. It may be an opportunity to limit patients’ exposure in and out of the hospital.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox to keep the pain of opioid withdrawal to a minimum. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.