National Survey by the Center for Public Advocacy at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Shows Chronic Pain is Creating an Epidemic of Addiction

Treatments often are ineffective, creating fear of addiction with little pain relief.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (October 15, 2014) – Americans with chronic pain say that current treatments using prescription painkillers do not work, leading to years of intense suffering, thoughts of suicide and often dependence on the medications, according to a new national survey sponsored by the Center for Public Advocacy at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

"Many people with chronic pain feel hopeless," said Dr. Peter Przekop, a leading U.S. chronic pain and addiction treatment expert who treats patients at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. "The pain seems unending, traditional treatment often leads to drug addiction, and many wonder if life is worth living."

Chronic Pain Opioid Users Have Greater Addiction Issues and Fears Graph

The 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain do so at a cost of around $600 billion a year in medical treatments and lost productivity.1

The survey reveals that nearly eight of 10 (79.5%) of those being medicated for their pain would be willing to reduce or eliminate their current medications and try an alternative treatment for their chronic pain.

Chronic Pain Sufferers Want Alternative to Taking Prescribed Drugs

The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage has a program that is unique in the country for chronic pain. According to an outcome survey by the Betty Ford Center, some 73% of its patients are pain-free and drug-free a year after treatment.

"The medical system is too reliant on addictive drugs that don't work and lead to costly and long-term liabilities," said Dr. Przekop. "Truly this is a situation that needs new approaches."

Early Life Trauma Common Among Chronic Pain Suffers Chart

Other highlights of the survey:

  • Doctors are prescribing addictive medicines to people with a history of addiction.
  • Nearly half of those surveyed (48.2%) take three or more pain medications.
  • 50.4% experienced lost productivity at work.
  • 36.5% faced problems with family relationships.

The survey, "Chronic Pain in America: Consequences, Treatments and Addiction," was conducted in July 2014 by Q Market Research with responses from 1,009 Americans with chronic pain, giving the results a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of ± 3.0%.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care to help youth and adults reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery.

The Survey, "Chronic Pain in America: Consequences, Treatments and Addiction," was commissioned by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and conducted in July 2014 by Q Market Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1,009 Americans with chronic pain completed the survey, from among an online panel of chronic pain sufferers, giving the results a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of ± 3.0%.
1Institute of Medicine, June 29, 2011. Committee chair Phillip Pizzo, MD, of Stanford University School of Medicine.

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