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The Clinician’s Role in Chronic Pain & Intervention – Lecture at the BMC

On Friday, July 27, 2018, Yvette Colon, PhD, LMSW, presented a four-hour inservice for the therapists at Birmingham Maple Clinic about the subject of Pain; ‘The Clinician’s Role in Chronic Pain & Intervention’ and ‘The Intersection of Pain Management  & Substance Abuse.’

Pain is an extremely important subject for clinical therapists to understand, since it impacts mental health by manifesting as depression, anxiety, shame, anger, helplessness, hopelessness and loss of control.  In the first lecture of the day, Dr. Colon described the four contexts in which to evaluate pain; Physical, Psychological, Social and Spiritual. She explained the unnecessary suffering and increased medical and mental health costs incurred by the pain patient and stressed the importance of understanding that pain is a subjective experience that must be evaluated along with a complete assessment of how the person functions.

In her second lecture, Dr. Colon discussed the importance of receiving appropriate pain care through medications and the problems that occur when the medications are not properly managed by a competent, reputable medical care provider.  She was emphatic in discriminating between the terms “opiod” and “narcotic;” insisting that they are not synonymous and in the healthcare arena, the proper term is “opiod,” while “narcotic” refers to drugs in the legal arena.

She discussed the difference between physical dependence, addiction and tolerance and explained that when opiods are used to manage pain and the use is controlled, improves the quality of life, person is concerned about side effects, follows instructions for use, does not abuse other substances, keeps all other related medical appointments, and often has medication left over, then opiods are effective and valuable for pain management.  When the use is out of control, use continues despite side effects, the person is unaware of or in denial about problems with the medication, hoards medication, does not follow useage instructions, does not comply with medical follow-up appointments except for refills and the medication causes decreased quality of life, then it is likely ‘substance abuse.’

People experiencing pain often need education, resources, advocacy and psychotherapy to cope.  If you or someone you know is experiencing pain that is unmanageable and would like to pursue treatment for related depression or anxiety, contact Birmingham Maple Clinic at 248-646-6659, or email [email protected]