The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that prescription opioids alone cost our country $78.5 billion per year, with $26 billion of that amount being assessed to our healthcare system directly.
Furthermore, the number of overdose deaths attributed to opioid drugs has increased dramatically for males and females both, almost tripling between the years 2002 and 2015. Even those prescribed opiates are dying at alarming rates, with our country losing around 17,000 individuals annually due to a lethal dose of doctor-prescribed opioids.
These numbers are just a few which highlight the importance of helping patients alleviate their pain without the use of drugs. As a chiropractor, you can begin to achieve this goal by putting the right marketing campaigns in place. This consists of a three-step process.
Step #1: Help your patients realize that you understand their total pain
Before you can get potential patients to take whatever action you recommend, you must first get them to see that you feel their pain. In the case of chiropractic patients, they’re likely already experiencing physical pain, but that’s not the type of pain that will lead them away from prescription opiates. You also need to get them to realize that you feel the emotional pain of dealing with chronic physical issues.
The starts with talking about the many ways in which being in constant pain can negatively impact quality of life. From making it difficult to work and care for the family to issues sleeping, your potential patients need to fully realize that you’re a health professional who understands the ways living with a painful condition can make life more difficult to enjoy. This creates a connection that makes you more trustworthy, thus increasing the likelihood that they’ll want you as their service provider.
Step #2: Point out the problems with relying on pain killers
Because opioids can be prescribed, some people think of them as harmless. They don’t realize the way this category of pain killers can actually wreak havoc on their lives, so they take them, often without thinking twice. Educating the public of the dangers of opiates—even those that have been prescribed—is critical to this process then, so point out the problems associated with common opioids such as hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone.
Share how addictive they are, creating a whole new subset of problems for the patient, as well as how they negatively affect every system in the body. For example, according to DrugAbuse.com, opiates slow breathing, potentially causing death via its slowing effect on the respiratory system. They also impact the digestive system, creating issues ranging from constipation to bowel obstruction or even perforation.
The nervous system is impacted by opioids too, impairing the drug taker’s physical abilities due to lack of coordination. Take the opioids for too long and the patient could even wind up with a condition called hyperalgesia, which is “a syndrome of increased sensitivity to pain,” the exact opposite of the effect the patient is after.
Chronic and consistent opiate use can also reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, cause damage to the liver, and more. Thus, it isn’t as simple as taking a drug to stop the pain. There are many negative, and often unknown consequences, to long-term opioid use.
Step #3: Share the benefits of natural pain relief
Once you point out the problem with relying on prescription opioids to deal with continual pain, you can use those facts to help support the creation of a treatment plan that doesn’t utilize this category of drugs.
Essentially, you want to help your potential patients see how taking prescription opiates can walk them down a dark path whereas chiropractic offers a much more promising, and less problem-filled, result.
Marketing methods to consider
To do this, you may want to have pamphlets on hand that outline the issues with opioids and opioid addiction. If you don’t already this type of handout at your chiropractic practice, you could ask a local drug addiction recovery center for one.
Alternatively, NIDA provides a number of different free patient materials you can either download and print or order directly from them. These range from booklets to fact sheets to posters, basically anything in print you may need to help convince them that pain killers aren’t the way to go.
Another option is to create a video that you can post on your website and share on social media outlining the dangers of opioids. If you have a patient who has overcome a prescription opioid addiction and is willing to talk about it, you could include him or her in the video to provide even more validity to your claims.
You could even work with a local drug abuse clinic to create free community workshops. The more you increase the awareness that prescription opioids can be an issue, the easier it will be to convince potential patients that a drug-free alternative really is the best alternative.