SPOKANE, Wash. -- The nations prescription opioid crisis is one of the worst problems facing society.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. It is hitting especially hard in smaller communities.
In the 1990s, doctors were worried about under treating patients. Now, they are struggling to help patients that are addicted to their pain medications.
"The problem is that pain is very, very complicated, it's individually experienced, and experienced a crossed multiple dimension," said Chief of Pain Medicine at the University of Washington Dr. David Tauben.
Patients cope with pain differently. Even though, recent CDC reports show that prescriptions for opioid painkillers has dropped, the number of Americans getting addicted to opioids is still too high. Doctors are worried about the future
"I fear and many of our patients fear, and I am sure many of your audience fear, that it is going to swing so far in the opposite end, that not only will opioids not be available but that physicians will not be willing to take care of pain at all," Tauben explained.
Doctors are switching gears and exploring a range of alternative therapies, including mindfulness based stress reduction like yoga and acupuncture, focusing on regular exercise, careful diet, quality sleep therapies that are non-drug based, and not linked to overdose. Their goal is to teach people how to live and work through the pain.
"Not to be trapped by pain but to be empowered to live with it and to have a successful life without pain being the most important thing," Tauben said.
Tauben is calling this the "Next Generation Medicine." Even though this approach is new to the pain world, doctors have seen positive results and will continue to dedicate time and research.