Have you ever had surgery? What about an injury? Chronic headaches or even unexplained pain?
Chances are, if you said yes to any of those questions, no matter the root of your pain, most likely you’ve been prescribed pain medicines.
But, these highly addictive painkillers, also known as opioids, no matter their initial need, are causing a greater pain within our society…within our families.
This pain is not physical, but it is far more gruesome, far more lasting, and it is affecting far more than those who have been (or are being) prescribed legal opioids.
In fact, opioid use, misuse, and overdose has become so common, and has affected so many, that it is considered to be a full blown epidemic.
Maybe it’s just like a heart attack, or cancer, or a stroke? We know about those things. But, we don’t really become concerned until it affects us directly.
Well, 1 in 3 Americans are said to know someone who is addicted to opioids. That’s getting a little closer to home now, isn’t it?
So then, maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper and both learn about the dangers of opioids, this epidemic, and a viable option to prescribed painkillers.
What Are Opioids?
Legal and Illegal
There are two categories of opioids, legal and illegal.
Legal opioids are a class of drug made of chemicals that aid the nervous system in creating feelings of relaxation, pleasure, and their primary reason for prescription, relief of pain.
It is the relaxed, pleasurable feeling that these drugs can produce that has led to them being used for “recreational” reasons…or in other words, to get high.
Legal opioids include the drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and others.
Illegal opioids include the drugs heroin and fentanyl.
Both legal and illegal, these drugs are highly addictive.
Even legally prescribed opioids, when taken as directed, can have a lasting effect on the brain, which can specifically lead to an increase in one’s tolerance levels for these drugs.
When this occurs, greater amounts of the drug are needed to produce the same pain relieving effects.
Unfortunately the downfalls don’t end there. This increase in tolerance leads to dependence amongst long-time prescription (and recreational) opioid users.
Long time opioid use causes an adaptation of neurons in the brain. In fact, with opioid dependence, these neurons can no longer function normally without the presence of this highly addictive drug.
Should users stop taking these legally prescribed drugs (and such is the case for illegal use as well), they will experience symptoms of withdrawal such as muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
According to the National US Library of Medicine, everyone who takes opioids for a long length of time will become dependent on the drug, but only a small percentage of people become “addicted.”
But, those suffering from the “chronic disease” “opioid addiction”…this just isn’t the case regarding addiction.
Many suffering from opioid addiction cite their first experience with the drug as one stemming from a legal medical prescription.
The tale that is often told progresses as follows:
- Pain. Prescription. Tolerance.
- More Prescription. More tolerance. Dependence.
- Withdrawal in the absence of the opioid.
- Greater sense of need or urge for the drug.
Obviously, that’s over simplified and every person is different.
But, regarding the notion that dependence rarely leads to addiction, just take a look at the following facts about opioid use… and the prescription of these drugs.
Judge for yourself the line between their medically admitted “dependence” and “addiction.”
- It is estimated that over 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids right now.
- Approximately 137 people died of an opioid overdose every single day in 2019.
- In 2017 opioid pain medication was prescribed at a rate of almost 59% (that’s 58.7 opioid prescriptions per 100 people).
- In 2017, more than 11 million Americans abused opioids that were medically prescribed.
- In data gathered between 2002-2012, 80% of heroin users claimed to use prescription opioids prior to heroin. This is a direct flip from reports in the 1960’s that showed more than 80% of opioid users started with heroin.
- Opioid addiction claimed more lives in 2019 than gun violence and car accidents.
- Emergency room doctors treat more than 1000 people daily from opioid misuse.
The United States incorporates programs where those addicted to opioids can safely be administered drugs like methadone. This substance acts similarly to morphine and is used for those who are addicted to both prescription opioids and illegal opioids such as heroin.
In Canada, as our neighbors to the north are also battling opioid addiction and subsequent overdoses from this type of drug, they are essentially setting up prescription drug ATMs of sorts to provide access to clean pills for addicts in an effort to keep them from buying opioids on the streets.
It’s coming to a point that almost none of us are immune to this problem. In fact, it has been concluded that now 1 in 3 Americans know someone who is addicted to opioids.
Maybe, instead of continually reciting the facts and annually compiled information surrounding this crisis, we could look for other ways to manage pain that don’t carry the steep penalties that opioids inevitably bring?
Chances are if you’ve battled with chronic pain, know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction, or have been thus afflicted yourself, you know that non opioid options are limited and often ineffective at combating chronic pain.
But, there are more and more stories of relief coming from one increasingly popular, natural prescription drug alternative.
CBD And Pain Reduction
CBD or cannabidiol has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.
It is one of hundreds of chemicals found in the marijuana plant. And, this non-addictive, non-psychoactive chemical in the plant is being focused on heavily right now for its specific benefits in regards to pain relief.
Studies are proving that cannabidiol interacts with a system in your body known as the endocannabinoid system. The CBD aids the ability of neurotransmitters to bind on to receptors in your nervous system resulting in a decrease in pain and inflammation.
Many have found that the use of CBD has completely changed their lives in relation to chronic pain management.
From an individual who was being prescribed pain medicine after pain medicine due to a herniated disc in her back…
To a person who suffered with chronic headaches resulting from a concussion and traumatic brain injury…
To a man with pain from rheumatoid arthritis…
And, a man who suffered with chronic, crippling pain for more than 22 years…
…CBD brought the pain relief these people needed and had long been seeking.
And, success stories like this are truly not in short supply. A very brief scour of the internet can unearth countless individuals whose lives have been regained by replacing opioid pain treatment with CBD.
As dependency is guaranteed for long term opioid use, and addiction and overdose is more and more common, exploration into other treatment options has proven imperative.
And, that’s where CBD is proving over and over again to be a successful option.
If you have been a long time opioid user for whatever reason, please, before switching to a non additive option like CBD, talk to your doctor.
Abruptly quitting opioids “cold turkey” can cause serious medical complication–even death.
Err on the side of caution here folks. Seriously.
If you are tapering or reducing your use of opioids (after talking to a doctor):
- Because the human body develops a tolerance to drugs like opioids, long term use results in a need to take far more than what the body initially needed to dull pain. Therefore, when reducing, first find a support network (family, friends, healthcare) to be by your side along this journey.
- Make a plan to manage withdrawal: plan to manage both pain and other symptoms of withdrawal.
- If you decide to do a rapid reduction or an abrupt stop of your opioid use, it is advised that this be done with medical supervision due to withdrawal symptoms.
- A slow reduction in opioid use can be achieved by reducing the prescribed dose by 5-10% every 2-4 weeks. (Besides physician consultation, a pharmacist should also be able to assist you in going over a plan for dose reductions.)
- Similar to dose reductions, another approach to opioid reduction is the use of other opioids (administered by a doctor or specified health clinic) like methadone in small doses.
*If you, like millions of others, suffer from chronic pain, know that CBD can offer a viable and successful alternative to addictive opioids.
**If you have a loved one who is already in the throws of opioid addiction…be patient, be kind, be understanding, be wise, and be helpful. There are many resources available to help you, to help them, and to help you help them.
***And, if you think that you are or may be struggling with an opioid addiction…please, seek help. There are numerous local, city-wide, state-wide, and even a national system in place to offer services/help to those in need.
Trained staff are available 24/7 at the National Addiction Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
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And if you’re looking for alternatives pain treatment options, you may find this story interesting…
Blacklisted Celebrity Doctor’s Enzymes
JFK… Marilyn Monroe… and Charlie Chaplin.
They all had one thing in common… They ALL used a Columbia University doctor’s natural pain-relief formula that is:
And you can still get it today—without a doctor—because it is actually an enzyme your body already creates—that declines as we get older.
Decades ago, a reclusive MD and Columbia University professor Dr. Max Wolf discovered how these enzymes work to relieve pain.
And he used them extensively in his medical practice.
But in spite of his high-profile patients like JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, and Charlie Chaplin… The drug industry made more money off selling pills that treat symptoms without fixing anything… SO:
Dr. Wolf’s breakthrough was blacklisted.
Fortunately—thanks to the internet—his research was rediscovered by a post-rehab specialist who is sharing it with the world.