In Elite Daily ( http://elitedaily.com/news/movie-painkiller-effect-study/1618233/ ) they report about a study in which it shows that people who were watching a fictional movie had a higher tolerance to pain than people who were not. This could be an exciting finding because it would indicate that there is a new tool for fighting against pain other than simply doping the brain with opiate based medications.
It is important to realize just how opiate based medicines work in the brain. When the body is in pain or injured it will send signals to the brain that it is hurting, and this is how we feel pain–based on these signals from the body. When we take an opiate based painkiller it is effectively the same as putting a rag in a ringing alarm clock–you are dulling the ringing but the pain signals are still being sent. And unfortunately, in order to dull those pain signals we have to dope the entire brain as well, including the euphoric effect that we often get from opiates.
So any alternative therapy that does not include doping the entire brain and body with strong chemicals is a welcome addition to our arsenal of tools to reduce pain. There is a real problem in the world of addiction recovery when people suffer from chronic pain conditions and do not have a good way to treat that pain without opiates.
One such method is through physical therapy, but this is not ideal for every situation. Another alternative is meditation techniques, but again, this is not going to work perfectly for every person.
And this idea of using emotional fiction in order to reduce pain is very new and quite radical, and it just might work out better than we think in the long run. We cannot predict exactly how this line of medicine will evolve in the future, but it is definitely worth exploring. For example, medical researchers may be able to target the exact way in which the brain is releasing endorphins while watching emotional fiction, and then somehow reproduce that using medications in the future that are completely non addictive. They are already close to such breakthroughs with new painkiller drugs that do not produce euphoric effects.
Imagine a world in which the doctor, instead of prescribing a pill to take care of your pain, would prescribe you instead a list of recommended activities. These might include physical therapy, meditation, emotional fiction, diet and nutrition, sleep recommendations, and so on. It is possible that such a regiment might work even better than opiate based medications currently do.
The other part of this equation is the consumer, the general public, and their need for instant gratification and potential entitlement. It is unfortunate that much of our society today believes that they should have a magic pill that instantly removes all of their pain without any real risk or side effects. This is not a realistic portrayal of how pain management should actually work. We need some pain in order to help regulate our body and our behavior.
Interestingly, the Huffington Post reports that (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/films-release-natural-painkiller_uk_57e2915ce4b004d4d861894e) watching a fictional movie that is emotional also creates a stronger bond with the people you are watching it with. This has implications for pain reduction as well because if you are all alone then your mind is free to focus on the pain, whereas if you are socially connected then you are much more distracted from your physical discomfort. So watching an emotional film with other people has a double effect on pain reduction, because you also build this bond with the audience as you are watching.
People who abuse opiates, whether it is to relieve physical or emotional pain, should all realize that they are only “putting a rag in the alarm clock” rather than reducing any real pain from their body.
With certain medications such as NSAIDS you are actually reducing inflammation and pain right at the source of the injury, whereas opiate based medications only mask that pain while making your brain care less about them. Or rather, opiates make your brain not notice the pain signals as much. If you take enough of an opiate medication eventually you will go into a coma or even die.
The solution for addicts with chronic pain is to seek out alternatives and be open to the possibility that they might work well for them. The problem is almost never that such alternatives do not work, but it is the person’s attitude towards them that is at fault. Usually this is manifested as a bad attitude based on the fact that “they want what they want when they want it.” Meaning that an addict who is addicted to opiates does not want to hear about massage therapy, or emotional fiction therapy, or any of these other alternatives. This is not because those things don’t work for them, it is because they are addicted to opiates and their addictive mind is crying out for opiate based drugs.
One of the factors that can get confusing for people is that opiate withdrawal is, in itself, quite painful and uncomfortable. Obviously this is one of the reasons that the addictive cycle exists in the first place regarding opiates, because the discomfort is so intense when stopping the drug. But it is important to realize that even without any chronic pain issues a person can feel massively uncomfortable during the withdrawal process.
Perhaps the detoxification center of the future will incorporate and combine a variety of therapies, to include things such as “emotional fiction films” in order to help people through the withdrawal process. In addition to pain and discomfort reduction, watching an emotional film with others could help the struggling addict to form a more intense bond with their peers, who we have found to be vital for their recovery.
We don’t yet know exactly what the future of pain relief is going to look like, but for now, it is important to give struggling opiate addicts as many tools as possible when it comes to treating their pain and helping them get through withdrawal. Without going through the detox process it is nearly impossible to get any sort of fresh start on life. The journey to a new life in recovery, to include a life that relatively pain free, is going to require that some addicts think outside the box. Research and new ideas such as the one described here for fiction therapy are likely to be an important component of people’s recovery efforts, as long as they remain open to new and positive ideas.