Do you have chronic pain, and your life isn't what you need or want? Do you have family, friends, or your physician wanting you to reduce or stop your pain medications? Peg Gehring, FNP-BC, DPN, at St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics wants you to know that there are options for you, and St. Mary's Hospital & Clinics is now offering treatment for this problem. 

Studies show that lowering the number of opioids, and replacing them with healthier alternatives, has helped people with chronic pain to have an equal, or decreased, amount of discomfort, than those taking opioids alone. Additionally, those who have discontinued the use of opioids report that their ability to better manage their pain, chronic stomach issues, constipation, depression, diabetes and heart disease is greatly increased by stopping the use of opioids.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that, as of 2018, 128 people in the U.S. die after overdosing on opioids every single day. That number has been on the rise and includes the misuse of and addiction to prescribed pain medication. It is a serious national crisis that affects health, as well as the social and economic welfare of not just the user, but also families, schools, and entire communities.

  The CDC estimates the total “economic burden” or prescription opioid misuse in the United States is at least $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Gehring is passionate about this subject and has been instrumental in the research of the use and impact of opioid use in the region. She has been working with other area organizations to identify the impact of opioid use locally, and to develop alternative options for pain management. 

“My purpose is to give people hope that there is a better life without opioids,” Gehring said. Many of the people whom I have gotten off opioids state that their life is much better and, although they still have pain, they feel like they are more in control of their lives and they can enjoy the little things in life. I have my doctorate in managing chronic pain (ISU 2017).  We have safer medication to manage pain (buprenorphine) and medicine to manage withdrawal side effects.”

“Additionally, our behavioral health specialist, Jamie Rundhaug, PhD, LCWCh, can help them manage their pain with cognitive behavioral techniques,” she continued. “Jamie has focused on behavioral methods to treat pain in patients to prepare for treatment of these individuals. Both St. Mary’s and Syringa are working with University of Washington and UCLA to identify those patients who are having a problem with opioids or other illegal substances. We are working to have both in-house and telemedicine as resources. There is no one way to treat these problems, but SMH and SHC are working to individualize care plan for each person. I really want to leave the message that we can make your life better.”

For information: St. Mary's Hospital and Clinics, 208-962-3267.

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