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Tuesday, February 20, 2018
HomePolicyPharmaIntegrating approaches to heal, not just cure

Integrating approaches to heal, not just cure

Prescription drugs are a $425 billion business in the United States, and growing. A good chunk of that goes towards prescription pain medication to help alleviate chronic pain. More than 25 million of us report having daily chronic pain, and 23 million say they’re in a lot of pain, according to a study from The National Institutes of Health.

About one in five adults are prescribed opioids to manage chronic pain says the CDC. We all know about the high rate of substance use disorder in the U.S., and while opioids certainly have a place, especially for managing acute pain, they’re not an ideal long-term option.

So what can we do to help people with persistent pain?

Wayne Jonas, M.D., former head of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine and a practicing family physician, said we should be looking at alternative and complementary options, like acupuncture, yoga, meditation and other less traditional approaches. In his new book, How Healing Works, he advocates an integrative approach, combining elements of Western and complementary medicine into a person-centered health plan. He believes this will significantly reduce our national dependence on prescription drugs, lower health costs, and improve patients’ quality of life.

You can listen to my interview with Dr. Jonas below.

Written by

lizseegert@gmail.com

Liz Seegert, MA, is the director of the Media Fellows Program at the GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement. She has spent more than 30 years reporting and writing about health and other topics for print, digital and broadcast media. Her primary beats currently encompass aging, Baby Boomers, health policy and social determinants of health. She edits the aging topic area for the Association of Health Care Journalists website, writing and gathering resources on the many health issues affecting older adults. She also co-produces the GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement “HealthCetera” podcast, diving into health issues underreported in traditional media. As a senior fellow, she will continue to report on vital public health issues, seeking out voices who offer unique perspectives on policy, health care and practice issues. As director of the Media Fellows Program at the center, she mentors early-career health journalists to build their understanding of these and other key issues within the health care delivery system.

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