#ChoosePT in California: Healing the Pain of the Opioid Epidemic
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, about 20,000 Americans are killed every year by prescription painkillers. These deaths are almost always overdoses on prescription opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl (the drug that killed Prince).
But unfortunately, that number is deceptively small. Many more deaths stack on top of those as a result of heroin abuse – and people often start using heroin after using a prescription drug first.
In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) reports that people who are addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin, which has an even higher overdose risk, along with many other dangers.
This June, the APTA has launched a nationwide campaign called #ChoosePT to emphasize the healing potential of physical therapy as a powerful tool to combat the painkiller craze. For most patients, APTA says, opioid prescriptions will do more harm than good: even when they don’t cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms, they often come with severe depression as a side effect.
While opioids can be heaven-sent for cancer patients and others with severe, perhaps untreatable pain, people with chronic pain or injuries can choose Physical Therapy (or #ChoosePT) as a much healthier alternative.
At ACHT, we are advocating for #ChoosePT in California. As a healthcare vocational school, we work closely with physical therapists and future physical therapy aides. We help form and train the physical therapy teams of the future in the technical and social skills they need to become healers – and when we place our graduates, we see firsthand the difference they can make on the job.
We see our role in #ChoosePT in California as an educational mission – of course, we want to educate students so that they are ready to enter the workforce as physical therapy aides, but we also want to share information about the benefits of physical therapy with the California population.
Unlike opioid painkillers, which only conceal the pain rather than treating the cause, and can actually worsen the condition that is causing the pain, physical therapy treats pain through movement.
It’s a solution that shares roots with some ancient wellness practices like Tai Chi and is also promoted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as an effective healing method for various kinds of pain suffered by millions of Americans of all ages. Even people who are already on opioid painkillers benefit from physical therapy, which can reduce or eliminate the need for the prescription.
Most injury and chronic pain patients in California are fortunate to have a choice in the plan of care they follow – and physical therapy is a strong choice to make. If you are living with pain, we urge you to try to #ChoosePT in California, even if you’re skeptical. You may be surprised by how much you will heal through this more natural and proactive route – and you’ll be part of the movement to heal the pain of the opioid epidemic in the United States.
American College of Healthcare and Technology has two convenient locations.
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