The Worst Drug Crisis in American History

Public health officials have described the current opioid and heroin addictions to be the worst drug crisis in American history. This epidemic affects 2.5 million Americans, nearly half a million of whom are addicted to heroin, a dangerous street drug that prescription pill addicts can quickly turn to, because the cost is significantly less than that of prescription painkillers.

Since Downtown’s Healthcare opened in 1997, I have seen this opioid epidemic unfold right here in Colorado! NEARLY 260 MILLION OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS ARE WRITTEN IN THE US EVERY YEAR.

The number of opioid prescriptions has increased substantially over the last few decades. “In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills,” according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The result? Drug overdose is now our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In 2015, accidental drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 deaths, with 20,101 of those deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 linked to heroin. However, 80 percent of heroin users start out on prescription opioids.

Despite the fact that Americans are dying at unprecedented rates due to Big Pharma’s prescription painkillers, the pharmaceutical industry is rarely named by the establishment media for its deadly role in the growing opioid epidemic.

Opioids Actually Alter Your Brain Structure

Studies also suggest that drugs for physical and emotional pain may change your brain. In a study by researchers at the University of Alabama, people with chronic low back pain received either morphine or a placebo daily for one month. Both groups experienced similar reductions in pain, but there was a major difference among those taking morphine — changes in the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed, the patients taking morphine had a 3 percent reduction in gray matter volume, over the course of the study. The reductions occurred in regions of the brain that regulate emotions, cravings, and pain response.

Further, the morphine group had increases in gray matter volume in areas related to learning, memory, and executive function. Lead study author Joanne Lin told Reuters, “Because we are seeing that opioids rapidly change the brain, our take-home message is that opioids should be reserved for cases when most other treatment options have failed.”

This is what Downtown’s Healthcare has been stating for years! Conservative care should always be employed first. Our goal is to help people get off of medications and to avoid unnecessary surgeries! Unfortunately in our society, drugs and surgery are used first and second. Many Natural health care options are overlooked. This in itself is a travesty, when you look at the number of families and people who are being affected by doctors, who freely write prescription after prescription, not giving their patients other alternatives.

Treating Your Pain Without Drugs

While opioid painkillers may relieve pain temporarily, the addiction risks can quickly send you spiraling out of control, down a dark and dangerous path.

The good news is, there are many natural alternatives to treating pain. It’s particularly important to avoid opioids when trying to address long-term chronic pain, as your body will create a tolerance to the drugs. Over time, you may require greater doses at more frequent intervals, to achieve the same pain relief. This is a recipe for disaster, and could have lethal consequences. Following is information about non-drug remedies, dietary changes, and bodywork interventions that can help you manage your pain.

Natural Alternatives:

Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN): Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses, LDN, available only by prescription, triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.

Curcumin: A primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown in more than 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is hard to absorb, so best results are achieved with preparations designed to improve absorption. It is very safe and you can take two to three every hour if you need to.

Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. Higher doses are typically required for pain relief, and you may need 8 milligrams or more per day to achieve results.

Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as it worked well for many of my former rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider eating some of the pulpy core when you consume the fruit.

Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.

Evening primrose: These oils contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory, and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea, or incorporated into fresh vegetable juice.

Dietary Changes to Fight Inflammation and Manage Your Pain

Consume more animal-based omega-3 fats: Similar to the effects of anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils work to directly or indirectly modulate a number of cellular activities associated with inflammation. While drugs have a powerful ability to inhibit your body’s pain signals, omega-3s cause a gentle shift in cell signaling to bring about a lessened reactivity to pain.

Radically reduce your intake of processed foods: Processed foods not only contain chemical additives and excessive amounts of sugar, but also are loaded with damaging omega-6 fats. By eating these foods, especially fried foods, you upset your body’s ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty-acids, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in most pain.

Eliminate or radically reduce your consumption of grains and sugars: Avoiding grains and sugars, especially fructose, will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are some of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production, which contributes to pain.

Optimize your production of vitamin D: As much as possible, regulate your vitamin D levels by regularly exposing large amounts of your skin to sunshine. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement, along with vitamin K2 and magnesium, is highly advisable.

Bodywork Methods That Reduce Pain:

Chiropractic: While previously used most often to treat back pain, chiropractic treatment addresses many other problems — including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and whiplash. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain-free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication.

Massage: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine, included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including bone and muscle pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, and spinal-cord pain.

Acupuncture: According to The New York Times, an estimated 3 million American adults receive acupuncture annually, most often for the treatment of chronic pain. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing four types of chronic pain, including back and neck pain, chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, and shoulder pain — more so than standard pain treatment.

Regenerative Therapy: This growing treatment option is helping many people overcome debilitating pain. Preliminary studies are showing the stem cells are helping many people to overcome pain from may different forms of tissue damage such as arthritis.

Gary Rademacher D.C., CCST

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