30 Nov Regional residents urged to access appropriate pain management with the implementation of medication monitoring system, SafeScript
Regional residents urged to access appropriate pain management with the implementation of medication monitoring system, SafeScript
Warrnambool physiotherapist Adrian Benson says there wouldn’t be a person who hadn’t been prescribed prescription opioids before attending the chronic pain rehabilitation program where he works at St John of God Hospital.
Mr Benson hopes that with the introduction of the Victorian government’s real-time prescription monitoring system, SafeScript, patients with persisting pain will start turning to other safer and more effective alternatives.
“People often see referral to pain clinics as a last resort, but education and information need to be the first step,” says Mr Benson.
“It’s about empowering people and helping them understand why they’re experiencing pain, particularly when their initial physical injury has already healed. When we teach people strategies to help manage that, we can see big changes.”
“One of my patients, for example, was reliant on medication and didn’t believe he would ever work again due to his injury.”
“He still deals with pain on a daily basis, but after learning new strategies he has a toolkit to help manage it, and he was able to get back to work again.”
SafeScript was launched in the Western Victoria PHN region earlier this month and will be rolled out across Victoria early next year in response to alarming increases in overdose deaths due to prescription medications.
In 2017, 414 Victorians lost their lives to prescription medication overdoses.
Prescription opioids, recommended for use in the short term to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery or an injury, are the largest contributor to overdose fatalities.
“Pharmaceutical companies originally told all the doctors these medications were non- addictive, but that’s not the case. It’s actually quite common to become dependent on these medications if they’re used regularly or for a long time,” says Mr Benson.
Spokesperson for not-for-profit advocacy organisation ScriptWise, Megan Newcomb, encourages community members who are concerned about their medication use to start a conversation with their doctor.
“Sometimes if you’ve been using these medications for a long time, it can be hard to believe there are other ways to get the same pain relief,” says Ms Newcomb
“But new research has shown that using opioid medications for too long can actually lead to more pain than avoiding it altogether.”
The good news, says Mr Benson, is that there are alternative treatments available. The PainWise program where he works at St John of God Hospital provides a rehabilitation program for chronic pain patients, teaching simple self-management techniques to help reduce pain and get people back to their daily lives.
“We need more access to pain management services and alternative treatments, particularly in regional areas,” says Mr Benson.
“More than an hour travel in the car can be very difficult for patients with chronic pain, and the closest public pain clinics to Warrnambool are in Geelong, Adelaide and Melbourne.”
ScriptWise has welcomed the development of a National Pain Strategy and is also advocating for increased access to pain services alongside more education for patients and health professionals.
“We know that opioid pain medications aren’t the silver bullet in chronic pain management and that alternative strategies can provide safer and more effective pain relief,” says Megan Newcomb.
“It shouldn’t matter where you live, the risks of reliance on opioids are too high. We need urgent investment in pain services, particularly in regional areas.”
If you’re concerned about your medication use call the SafeScript Pharmaceutical Helpline 1800 737 233
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