Opioid overdoses have become so common in the United States that they have actually reduced the life expectancy of the entire population by 2.5 months. This is certainly one of the most disturbing statistics to date regarding the nationwide crisis.
Total drug overdose deaths are estimated to top 71,000 this year, a new record. Despite the fact that heroin overdose fatalities have have risen 533% since 2002, the number one culprit in drug related deaths still remains prescription drugs, namely opioid based pain killers. Furthermore, narcotic pain medication is also the gateway to heroin use: four out of five new heroin addicts started off by abusing pain pills.
Many users are not abusing these prescription drugs for fun, but to treat pain. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2016 National Survey on Drug Use, about 11.8 million Americans misused an opioid last year. Most of the people abusing prescriptions reported they were doing so not for a recreational high, but to treat chronic pain.
The numbers are staggering, but there are ways to improve them. Natural pain relief methods can help patients that are suffering, without the side effects and risk of addiction brought by narcotic medications. Thankfully, the medical community is starting to acknowledge that opioids are not a long term solution for pain. Dr. Nitin Damle, president of the board of regents for the American College of Physicians (ACP) told the New York Times, “We need to look at therapies that are non-pharmacological first.” The ACP’s latest clinical guideline on lower back pain recommends treatments such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other non-surgical, non-narcotic therapies.
One of the best ways to stem the tide of opioid addiction and overdoses is to change prescribing habits and move towards natural pain relief. Once people know there is a safer alternative, we can start to fix the problem before it starts.
If you are dealing with chronic or acute pain, contact the SCNM Pain Relief Center by clicking here to learn how we can help.