Trump Calls Opioids a “Public Health Emergency”—How Bad Is It?
An Epidemic Abuse Makes Opioids a Risky Choice for Pain Management
“Trump declares opioid epidemic a national public health emergency” read CNN’s headline last month. When the president of the United States discusses a specific health problem, how bad is it?
How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic?
Let’s look at these facts from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)’s Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures:
- Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
- Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
- Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
- Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
- It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.
National Opioid Overdose Epidemic
- Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.
- From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate.
- In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
- Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.
- 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were ‘far more expensive and harder to obtain.'”
With numbers like that, now we can see why the President is getting involved in the opioid epidemic.
Is Chiropractic Care a Safer Alternative to Opioids?
In February of 2017, the American College of Physicians (ACP), a large group of medical doctors, released an evidence-based clinical practice guideline which was just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In it, they recommended that physicians treat patients experiencing acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (chiropractic). If drug therapy is desired, physicians and patients should select non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or skeletal muscle relaxants. What the American College of Physicians is saying is, “Go to the chiropractor before you take ibuprofen.”
In April of 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also published a study that found chiropractic manipulation was effective for acute low back pain.
In May of 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its latest draft blueprint for educating health care providers (medical doctors) involved in the management or support of patients with pain. This is the latest in a line of recent governmental reports published to combat the ongoing problems related to extended-release and long-acting opioids.
The draft report highlights chiropractic as playing a role in the non-pharmacologic therapies available when creating a comprehensive pain treatment plan.
So, what does it take for both a large group of medical doctors and the FDA to recommend spinal manipulation (chiropractic) after years of trying to destroy the chiropractic profession?
- Stacks of research that prove the effectiveness of chiropractic care AND
- A crisis (the opioid epidemic).
Now we have both.
Studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic care, showing that it is superior to standard medical care, superior to physical therapy, and more cost-effective than medical care have been around for decades. In the past, a positive chiropractic study would soon be followed by a negative response from the American Medical Association. Now those same people are actually recommending spinal manipulation (chiropractic).
One of our treatment goals, and the goal of anti-inflammatory medications, is to decrease inflammation. How can we reduce inflammation without using medication and without resorting to opioids?
What Treatments Does a Chiropractor Recommend for Inflammation?
- Use ice–on for 20 minutes, then off for an hour. Find a cold pack you can freeze and velcro it around your waist. That way, you can ice and be active at the same time.
- Stay as active as possible. Prolonged sitting or lying down can increase inflammation and make pain worse. Keep moving within your tolerance level.
- Gentle stretching exercises can lower pain levels and increase flexibility.
- Anti-inflammatory diets are not usually effective for acute inflammation, but can be helpful for autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation.
- There are specific herbs and supplements that can decrease inflammation such as turmeric and ginger, among others. Consult with your doctor about which ones will be safe for you.
- A study published in Surgical Neurology found that patients who spent an average of 75 days on a fish oil diet (1200 mg per day) experienced such significant improvements in overall pain that the majority discontinued their NSAID prescriptions. (However, do not stop any medications without talking to your doctor.)
- When you make your first appointment we will do a consultation, perform a thorough examination, and order any necessary imaging (X-rays, MRI’s). If we determine we can help you, we will sit down for a report of our findings and discuss a treatment plan. During the report we will discuss what is your best treatment approach to improve the quality of your life and stop your suffering.
We are starting to see that we need a new approach to pain management and particularly low back pain management. One of the hardest things to do is to get doctors to think and act differently than they have been for 20-30 years.
When it comes to low back pain, we need to think of chiropractic first, drugs second, and surgery last!
So, are you suffering? Is a loved one suffering? A spouse or parent? Give Algonquin Chiropractic Center a call at (847) 854-2000, schedule a consultation, and let’s see if we can relieve your pain—without risky and addictive drugs!