Blog#57: Opiate Addiction: Holistic Medicine Can Help
Did you know that most opiate addiction in this country stems from prescription drugs? That’s right – not from marijuana, not from alcohol, but from prescription opiates ordered and dispensed by the medical establishment. Opioids are a class of drugs including heroin, morphine, codeine, and also prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Not only do opioids reduce pain, they also have highly pleasurable and addictive effects.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is enough to give every adult in this country their own bottle of pills. Opioids not only diminish pain and increase pleasure, they also often change the personality, making the user more passive and less involved with their life and surroundings. Women and children are more likely to become addicted to opiates than are men. The number of prescriptions written for juveniles and young adults nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007, and the number of prescriptions almost quadrupled for women in a similar time frame. Also, people, especially adolescents, sometimes get these drugs from often well- intentioned people who did not finish their prescriptions.
Prescription opiates can become addictive surprisingly quickly, and sometimes people do not know that they are addicted until they try to withdraw from the drug. According to an article in JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(7):821-826, 94% of new heroin addicts began by using or abusing prescription opiates and then chose to switch to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to obtain.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, almost quadrupling from 1998 to 2008. In 2014, there were 47,055 lethal drug overdoses. Clearly, our country is in crisis regarding opiate abuse and addiction. Yet many, if not most medical doctors continue to prescribe opiates for pain, rather than initially suggesting alternative, holistic methods of pain management, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnosis, and anti-inflammatory nutritional programs. One or a combination of these approaches can manage almost any pain.
Addressing musculoskeletal misalignment can greatly reduce pain by helping to restore structural stability and allowing tense muscles to relax. Acupuncture has a naturally analgesic affect on the body, and has been used in place of conventional anesthesia in numerous surgeries, especially in China, but also in the US and Europe. Hypnosis, especially when combined with self-hypnosis, can dull or eliminate almost any pain if the hypnotist and practitioner are sufficiently skilled and relaxed, respectively. Of course, pain is feedback, which the body sometimes needs in order avoid re-injury, so one must be cautious about completely suppressing pain sensations. Reputable sources such as NIH and several mainstream medical journals have found hypnosis to be effective in relieving acute pain from headaches, injuries, stress/anxiety, and burns, and in relieving chronic pain, such as cancer pain, arthritis, phantom limb pain (amputees), TMJ, and fibromyalgia, to name just a few. Finally, anti-inflammatory diets and herbs can be surprisingly effective in reducing or even eliminating pain. Check out my past Blog #16, Cooling Chronic Inflammation for some more information about anti-inflammatory nutrition. You can click on the link to my blog and then scroll/click backward through the blogs until you reach #16.
Many times in my office I have helped relieve patients’ pain using chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture, nutrition, and/or hypnosis and self-hypnosis. I also am fortunate to be able to relieve my own pain, and have done so several times with self-hypnosis. Sometimes a good chiropractic adjustment or a few good acupuncture treatments have helped me the most. And nutrition has always been helpful. If people first came to alternative practitioners like myself for treatment when they were afflicted with pain, there would be much less opiate addiction in this country today.
This blog’s offer: If you are unable to locate blog#16, or if you have any questions about how holistic medicine can help alleviate your or another’s pain, feel free to contact me with questions or for a free consultation.