College Athletes, Injuries, and Ending Opioid Addiction Relapse for Good

College Athletes, Injuries, and Ending Opioid Addiction Relapse for Good

Any parent who has a child immersed in competitive sports faces the same dilemma: the rewards of winning vs. the agony of injury. If your son or daughter spends a good amount of time on a field, a court, an arena, concrete, or snow, injury and often surgery are part of the game. And while most parents worry over facing the downside of this inevitable conundrum, being scared sick about the corresponding pain medications needed make the consequences of high school and college athleticism more daunting than ever before. And statistics, as well as the devastating stories behind them, provide the grounds for evidence.

As a mother or father dealing with a child whose sports career has ended not due to injury, but the cycle of an opioid dependency, detox is often just another word for addiction relapse. However, a new noninvasive medical device is changing the way patients experience opiate detox, with astounding results.

The Bridge Device Is the Game Changer

While most addiction treatment programs are designed to help patients overcome their physical, emotional and spiritual need for opioids, the methodologies often put the onus on the person in treatment for the development of the disease. There is some truth to this but not in the way you might think.

Once we define how the cycle of pain-and-relief happens, we are better able to cut off addictive behaviors and experience better outcomes in recovery. A technology company, IHS, has done just that. They have pinpointed the body and the brain origins for pain and our ability to engage relief from it, delivered through a new medical device recently cleared by the FDA for use in the treatment of opioid detox.

Known as the NSS-2 Bridge, this is the first non-implantable medical device on the market that reduces the agonizing discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, prevalent in opiate and opioid withdrawal. Through extensive research and case studies of the Bridge Device in use, the benefits to patients undergoing heroin, suboxone, methadone, and prescription opioid detox are evident within 10 to 30 minutes of application.

The reason why the Bridge Device is monumental to the opioid epidemic is that it is a key differentiator in the continuum of addiction treatment care. If a patient can’t get through opiate detox, there is no addiction treatment. There is no addiction recovery.

Removing the Pain Transforms Addiction Treatment

The most difficult aspect of drug rehab is arguably the first phase of a program, the detoxification of the toxic drug of choice from the body and the brain. Once a person has become dependent on opioids (it can happen in as little as one week of prescription pain pill use and one-time use of heroin) a new level of internal norm has been established. In order to maintain this norm, increases in drug intake amount and frequency are required to keep with the desired high.

Detox literally shocks the system by starving it from the drug. Depending on the duration of addiction and other indicators of a patient’s state of health, medication-assisted treatment may be recommended to taper down from the opioid addiction. Nonetheless, detox is arduous and wrought with overbearing withdrawal symptoms that represent the body’s craving for the drug.

For many, detox is too cumbersome to endure, leaving most who want to remove the addiction searching for their next opioid fix, within days. Heroin detox has a 90 percent rate of relapse within the first week of treatment.

The Bridge Device circumvents the withdrawal process by blocking the pain receptors, allowing patients a less invasive opiate detox that typically only lasts from two to five days.

What Opioid Addiction Is Like for Young Athletes with No Bridge Device

As harrowing as sports injuries and opioid dependency can be to promising young adults and parents of college athletes, here’s the reality of what it brings to households and communities to date.

  1. American Journal of Public Health study showed that illegal use of prescription opioids in competitive teenage athletes is increased by 50 percent in those participating in high-injury sports.
  2. Male teenage athletes are 2x more likely to be prescribed pain pills and 4x more likely to abuse them, than non-athletes, according to a study from the University of Michigan.
  3. Researchers at New York University found that 75 percent of high school heroin use began with prescription opioid use.
  4. Every 45 minutes, the U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call due to child (under 18 years old) exposure to opioids.

The Psychology of Pain

The human body is hard-wired to handle pain through natural processes and the disbursement of hormones at the right time. But opioids and opiates dull that process and replace it with chemical dependency.

For college athletes who are amidst healing for an injury or after a successful surgery, opioids bring on a different level of pain. Pain researcher Dr. David Williams explains what can happen with the presence of chronic pain. Known as central pain the body will perceive that the pain still remains and exists, even though the injury has fully healed. Moreover, opioids make the pain worse.

Healthy Alternatives to Prescription Pain Medications

Numerous studies are under way at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other medical communities across the country to learn how to better treat pain, while minimizing additional risks to patients.

Recent findings show us that over-the-counter pain relievers actually treat pain more effectively than opioids. Many athletes already know that one’s ability to move after injury or surgery increases success rates. In addition, when patients can take the focus of pain and put it on something that boosts positivity in oneself or others, healing on multiple levels can happen. This is why Continuum Recovery Center offers a wide array of holistic therapies to effectively manage pain throughout treatment.

The Benefits of Alternative Therapies

Pain management doesn’t necessarily entail the use of prescription pain medications for college athletes. By combining physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and other mindfulness practices, the perceived presence of pain is minimized – allowing the healing process to continue without the side effects of drug toxicity and risk for addiction.

These same principles are applied in drug rehab. Holistic therapies have been shown to ease pain, stress, anxiety and depression while instilling healthy habits that can be made part of long term recovery. When supplemented with evidence-based behavioral therapies, opioid addiction treatment is then truly comprehensive.

Replacing Fear with Personal Empowerment

The moment a middle school, high school or college athlete takes a hit to the knee, shoulder, or head, their world changes. What they have been working and striving for quickly takes a back seat to “Will I ever be able to do that again…?”

Fear is a powerful motivator in convincing young people to do that which they should steer clear of – opioid drug intake. After a sports injury, vulnerability can make the wisest athlete succumb to temptation.

The sooner a young athlete understands and accepts that pain is a normal part of sports participation and that they already have a natural ability to deal with pain, the more he or she is empowered to manage it. In a phrase, personal empowerment in pain management equates to each athlete being able to say “I got this!”

If you are a parent of an athlete struggling with opioid addiction or know someone who is, consider learning more about the Bridge Device for the treatment of opioid withdrawals during detox. We know how much pain hurts. We’ve seen how much this technology helps.

It Could Happen to Any Parent

As I sat in the waiting room at the Surgicenter in Phoenix, it was hard to keep my legs from shaking with anticipation. As nervous as I was about my son’s surgery and the associated outcome, I thought about how I was going to handle the pain medications that he was, no doubt, to be prescribed.

Although, he is an adult and as a parent, I have no say in what he takes. But with a full ACL reconstruction, pain was a given. Even though he went to a renowned surgeon who specializes in treating professional and collegiate athletes, my intuition remained on heightened alert when it came to the drugs that were to come. Because I know too much about what can happen, and does, to so many of our young adults.

It wasn’t his seven-to-nine months of recovery that unnerved me to my core. It wasn’t the onslaught of medical devices that were ‘recommended’ to enhance the rehabilitation process. It was the supply of Oxycontin that sent me into a quiet, personal tizzy.

I had spoken to my son many times about the dangers of taking opioids. I explained, countless times, about how pain ‘works’. I extolled the details about the cycle of addiction and how prescription meds can take hold of a person, unwittingly, and own them – until death they do part.

He came out of the surgery, wacked out from the anesthesia and giving the medical staff a complete (and humorous) bio about who I was and what I’ve done in my career. The OR nurse explained the post-op protocols to be followed and the medications that needed to be filled.

And there it was: A one-month supply of opioids, with a refill if needed. I did what any parent would do – I took control once I got him home.

I didn’t ask him, I told him: “You will take these pain meds for five days, period. And in that time, you will gradually take less and less while replacing it with over the counter ibuprofen. The sooner you work through the pain, the faster it will leave.”

When I came to visit him in those first five days, I looked for that bottle of medication. I dumped the pills out and counted them – daily. I made him explain what and when he had taken and why. On day six, I watched him throw the remaining pills down the toilet, and the empty prescription bottle into the trash bin.

Call me crazy. Call me paranoid. But I know too much about how opioid addiction can happen. Here’s your opportunity to know more. And if you have the unfortunate circumstance, or know another parent who does, in finding out that your adolescent- or college-aged athlete is addicted to pain pills, you’ll know what to do and where to go for help.

– Anonymous