Alternative medicine used to reduce opioid abuse

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A onetime prescription meant to manage pain, can quickly transform into an opioid addiction. That’s part of the reason why doctors are turning to alternative forms of medicine that don’t involve popping pills.

Allison Kostrzewa, a nurse educator at Baystate Medical Center told 22News, the alternative methods they use have helped several of their patients manage pain symptoms. “We have animal assisted therapy, we can offer reiki, some of our practitioners do some mindfulness practices that will help people re-center and refocus away from the pain,” she said.

Animal assisted therapy, or AAT, can reduce, and even replace the use of prescriptions pills in some cases. A Loyola University study found patients who were recovering from joint-replacement surgery needed 50% less pain medication after AAT.

Other forms of alternative medicine, like meditation, have also proven to be successful.

The “Labyrinth Walk,” is a form of walking meditation can be also be used for pain management.

Reverend Ute Schmidt, the manager of Spiritual Services at Baystate Health told 22News it has also been used for addiction recovery. “In paying attention to their walking and breathing, it helps them calm their minds to really focus on something different than the opioids, or the drugs,” she said.

Alternative forms of medicine are not always covered by insurance.