Studying hundreds of post-surgery patients in a pain management program, Canadian researchers found those who received psychotherapy were likely to reduce opioid use over time more than those who relied only on medication. These patients also reported better mood and less daily disruption due to pain.
All patients in the study were at high risk of overusing opioids following intensive surgeries. Those who elected to use the services of an on-staff psychologist received mindfulness instruction based on the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT trains participants to be aware and accepting of difficult experiences while pursuing fulfillment in other areas of life. As study author Aliza Weinrib put it, the technique "can help people move towards what is important to them, even through their pain."