Not everybody wants to remain dependent on pain medication. But at present, we offer few if any alternatives to doing it on your own.
The goal is to eventually develop an objective scale by which pain can be measured not by self-report, but by neuroimaging.
Based on the vast number of prescriptions for opioid medications written by US practitioners over the past few decades, we’ve become the clear leaders in opioid prescribing.
We may be stuck relying on the soft stuff– therapy, support, behavior change, even spiritual growth– all those icky-squicky things that neuroscientists struggle to quantify.
As the old chief says in the movie Little Big Man: “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
It may turn out that chronic pain, like addiction, is one of those conditions that responds best to an approach that’s both individualized and ongoing, and requires considerable commitment on the patient’s part.