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Opioid crisis a local problem

Opioid crisis a local problem

Opioid crisis a local problem

For the first time since the advisory against alcohol consumption for pregnant women in 2005, the U.S. Surgeon General on April 5 issued an advisory for more American citizens to carry the opioid antidote Naloxone. 

The scary reality is that someone dies from opioid overdose every 12 minutes, which prompted President Trump to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017. The opioid crisis is real, and unfortunately for us, a problem that hits close to home. 

Data from the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) shows that relatively the Northwest including Washington and Oregon rank among the highest percentage of prescription drugs being opioids in the nation. Additionally, Madison Park is in the second-highest bracket as outlined by CMS, which puts our senior population at higher risk for developing an addiction to the drug.

Time published an entire publication on the opioid epidemic and how the reach of the drug knows no boundaries, reaching into every community, no matter how big or small, rich or poor, educated or not; every community type is feeling the deleterious effects of the drug.

As a practicing health care professional, many people seek out drug-free and surgery-free forms of treatment because they have lost a friend or loved one to opioids. I can tell you — without a doubt — the problem is real.

How did this happen?

In the 1990s, drug companies reassured medical providers that their patients who sought care mostly for pain would not become addicted to prescription opioids, which led to more and more prescriptions being given — until 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2015. 

Most commonly, these individuals were prescribed opioids for aches, pains and post-surgical pain relief, and ended up becoming addicted to the drug. Not surprisingly, many of these cases were due to low back pain, which is the number-one cause of disability worldwide. Typically, low back pain is caused from mechanical problems such as overuse or poor-use, but since many people seek treatment for health-related problems from their general medical providers, a drug is the most often used medicine.

How can we fix it?

The first thing we can do is stop the bleeding. For example, choose non-drug based treatments as a first line of defense for aches and pains, such as low back pain. These treatments may include things like chiropractic, rehabilitation/physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise, massage, ice and heat.

Depending on your insurance plan, you don’t need a referral from your doctor for it to be covered, especially if you’re seeing a provider who is a doctor (i.e. naturopathic doctor, doctor of chiropractic, doctor of physical therapy, doctor of osteopathy, medical doctor).

Also, we need to have a forward-thinking view of our muscle and joint problems by placing prevention at the center of our focus. Treating symptoms (how you feel), rather than function (how you use your body) is a reactive approach that addresses a problem by the time it has already become a problem, rather than addressing it at the first sign. Imagine if we all waited until we got diabetes to stop eating donuts, ice cream and candy for breakfast every day — what a life! Your muscles and joints are no different — put goodness in, get goodness out.

What to expect

Unlike drugs like opioids that work almost instantaneously, non-drug treatments may require more time and effort to work, especially if the pain has been around for longer than two weeks. Some pain can be helped within 1-2 sessions, but most cases, especially if extensive work is required, need several months and can persist for six months or more. However, benefits are that this type of treatment is non-addictive, improves your overall health and wellness, is longer lasting and has no negative side effects.

The main takeaways

• Opioid crisis is growing, and change starts with us.

• Prevention and non-drug treatments are the way forward.

• The most popular forms are chiropractic, rehabilitation/physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise, massage, ice and heat.