An opioid epidemic is sweeping across the nation, with unprecedented numbers of people addicted to and dying from prescription painkillers and heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 18,000 people died from overdosing on prescription opioid painkillers in 2014, compared to about 6,000 in 2001. One of the factors that contributed to these staggering statistics was a flood of healthcare providers over-prescribing addictive opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin. NIDA reports that 219 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers were written in 2011, compared to 76 million in 2001. American medicine cabinets were suddenly full of easily accessible opioids, opening the door for widespread substance abuse, addiction, and enrollment in drug rehab programs.
A large portion of people receiving those long-term opioid prescriptions were chronic pain sufferers, who then unintentionally became addicted to their medications over several months. According to NIDA, about 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. People with conditions such as endometriosis and fibromyalgia, as well as those who deal with run-of-the-mill back pain, often have no escape from daily suffering, and with few options or limited resources for treatment, many healthcare providers turn to opioid painkillers.
The issue with prescribing opioids long-term is that people will start to develop a drug tolerance. During a person’s first week on OxyContin, they might need only one pill a day. But over time, their body will develop a tolerance. The same dosage won’t provide the same amount of pain relief. (In some cases, a person has to take 10 times the original dose to manage their pain.) They might even experience withdrawal symptoms, prompting them to take their pills early. Over the course of a few months, this creates a vicious cycle. People start taking more pills more frequently, fall into addiction and addiction treatment facilities, and, in worst-case scenarios, die by overdose.
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, alternative, non-opioid medications such as antidepressants and antiepileptic and antiarrhythmic drugs can be used to manage pain. However, many pain experts recommend that a more holistic approach is taken, with chiropractic care, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral and psychological approaches, and biofeedback all working together to reduce pain. Relying on drugs alone may not be effective, and may increase the chance of addiction and the necessity of treatment in an addiction recovery program.
If you or a loved one is suffering from the disease of addiction, please contact our empathetic representatives at Mental Health Series today. Our highest priority is to ensure your long-term recovery, and we’ll connect you with a luxury drug rehab center that will address your individual needs and requirements. After going through a monitored, safe detoxification, you’ll attend groups and meetings to understand and tackle the root of your addiction. You’ll also learn practical skills and tools for overcoming and responding to cravings. Call or email us today to begin the journey of establishing a firm foundation for long-lasting recovery and sobriety.