Netflix’s limited drama series “Painkiller” starring Matthew Broderick tells the tragic story of the origins of the opioid epidemic.
But while the show provides a revealing look into how we arrived at this point, emerging VR therapy technology offers hope for preventing future suffering from painkiller dependence.
“Painkiller” makes it clear that simply limiting opioid prescriptions is not enough. People suffering from chronic debilitating pain need alternative solutions. This is where VR-based therapies can play a crucial role in providing non-pharmacological pain relief options.
VR pain distraction therapies
Through VR distraction techniques, pain signaling to the brain can be reduced naturally. Virtual simulations of calming environments lower stress and anxiety levels that exacerbate pain. And VR combined with psychotherapy helps patients alter thought patterns around suffering and build mental resilience.
While more research is underway, clinical studies have already shown VR to be effective at reducing pain from conditions ranging from cancer to fibromyalgia.
VR interventions can be done in the comfort of one’s home, increasing accessibility, and with Apple's new Vision Pro being released next year, will make these expereinces more accessible to everyday sufferers.
As highlighted in “Painkiller,” the key factors that drove the overprescription of dangerously addictive opioids were lack of education, oversight, and alternatives. VR pain management can empower patients to take control of their care and avoid dependence on pills.
Broader adoption of VR therapy could prevent countless stories like the ones spotlighted in “Painkiller.” When patients have accessible options for managing pain beyond opioids, providers can focus on prudent prescribing while still properly caring for those in need.
While past misdeeds can’t be undone, VR technology provides hope for a future less defined by the opioid epidemic.