Using Botox to Help Opioid Addiction Rates
The opioid crisis is a complex issue that will take many different steps to resolve. Handling the national addiction epidemic involves treating current addicts and working on ways to prevent future addiction from developing. For this reason, the pharmaceutical industry is looking at new opioid-free pain management solutions.
The majority of people currently addicted to prescription painkillers and other opioids began taking these substances legally. Opioids are highly addictive, and people who originally took these drugs for pain management purposes may soon find themselves addicted and needing to get a fix long after the pain has resolved.
Opioid-free pain relievers, especially those that can be safely used for long-term or chronic pain conditions, are an important piece in the puzzle when it comes to resolving the opioid epidemic one and for all. A variety of options are being explored by the scientific community, but one promising opioid-alternative may be Botox.
The Science of Pain Management
One of the most common causes of pain is muscle spasm. When tissue is injured, muscles may become stretched or pulled out of shape. Muscle spasms in the affected area cause pain and can delay healing. Some drugs, including opioids, can help to stop muscles from spasming and allow the area to heal.
Unfortunately, the effects of opioids are short-lived. The pain management ability of a medication may wear off after 12 to 24 hours, leaving the user in pain and requiring another dosage. This, over time, means that the brain becomes flooded with chemicals that activate specific parts of the brain, essentially rewiring the brain to crave more. This is what creates substance dependence and addiction; even after the pain stops, the brain continues to crave the substance it has become accustomed to receiving.
Alternative pain management techniques would need to be non-addictive but equally effective at reducing pain symptoms. This means that they would need to work on the injured part of the body without affecting the patient's brain. This is where the idea of using Botox comes in.
How Neurotoxins Could Help With Pain Management
The idea of using Botox for opioid addiction prevention is based on the drug's unique capabilities. Botox is developed from botulinum toxin serotype E, or botulism. This neurotoxin works by temporarily paralyzing muscle tissue. By blocking neurotransmission to a specific part of the body, these treatments could prevent muscle spasms and give the injured body part time to heal.
Botox has been used for years for cosmetics purposes, where it's used to smooth over wrinkled skin and relax facial muscles. Part of the appeal of Botox is that it is highly targeted. Rather than affecting a patient's brain or whole body, this treatment would target only the area it's injected into. By blocking neuro signals to the affected body part, Botox treatments could provide pain management without a risk of addiction.
Botox is already used in the treatment for some medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease, so its usage as a more general purpose pain treatment for soft tissue injuries is not a stretch.
Using Botox for Opioid Addiction Prevention is Just One Step of Many
Of course, the usefulness of Botox or any other non-opioid analgesic is limited to specific circumstances. This option will not work for pain management of chronic pain conditions that are not related to soft tissue injury, for example. However, by providing a non-addictive alternative to traditional opioid painkillers, doctors can reduce a patient's exposure to addictive substances. Continued research in this field and in finding other alternative pain management techniques will help to curb future addictions from developing.
People already suffering from addiction will of course need opioid addiction treatment and intervention to help them get clean and move on from the damaging effects of chemical dependency. Drug rehabilitation and community support help to fill in the other missing pieces of the opioid epidemic recovery problem. To learn more about our facility and what we're doing to help combat the addiction epidemic, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today.
Photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes