Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain—One Therapeutic Approach for the Opioid Epidemic

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Abstract

Opioids are frequently prescribed for chronic pain. For the past 2 decades, long-term opioid analgesic therapy was considered the cornerstone of effective pain management for chronic nonmalignant conditions, despite a lack of documented effectiveness and safety, with the attendant risk of addiction, overdose, and death. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used effectively to treat chronic pain, either as a stand-alone treatment or with other nonopioid pharmacological treatments. CBT improves pain-related outcomes along with mobility, quality of life, and disability and mood outcomes. Compared with long-term use of opioids, CBT has dramatically lower risks and may therefore be worth pursuing.

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