Today’s society is all too familiar with the word “opioids.” Since the late 1990s, there has been a sharp rise in the number of opioid-related fatalities, which now claim the lives of approximately 64,000 Americans annually.
The opioid epidemic is regarded as the deadliest catastrophe in American history, and overdoses are now the main cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
History of Opioids
There are numerous hypotheses explaining the opioid epidemic and how it came to be. There is little doubt that it started in the medical-pharmaceutical sector in the 1990s.
Doctors were under pressure at the time to approach the treatment of chronic pain more forcefully. In response to this pressure, medical professionals started recommending opioids for long-term usage so that patients may more effectively manage their pain. Pharmaceutical firms promoted opioids as being non-addictive and safe at the same time this was going on.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), doctors were writing prescriptions for medications at increasing rates by 2015, when there were enough tablets being written for every American to take daily for three weeks.
The Use of Opioids
Opioids are used to treat pain because they reduce the number of pain signals that the body delivers to the brain. Additionally, they alter how the body reacts to pain. Opioids include morphine, fentanyl, tramadol, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and codeine. When used as directed, they are often harmless, but due to their significant potential for abuse, people often misuse them without even realizing they are addicted.
By generating synthetic endorphins, which give you a nice feeling, this sort of medication modifies the brain. If opioids are used excessively frequently, and in large doses, the brain may actually stop generating natural endorphins as a result of overuse. The body develops a tolerance to synthetic opioids. As a result, increasing the amount of the drug needed to provide the same level of pain relief.
The Addictive Nature of Opioids
Many people might not be aware of the potential for opioid addiction. Studies have indicated that patients who use the drugs for even a short period of time—a week—had a higher risk of becoming addicted. People who have received opiate prescriptions in the past frequently start abusing them. When a person’s supply ran out, or their prescription expired, they frequently obtained drugs from friends, family, or by purchasing them illegally. Due to this behavior, prescription drugs were more difficult to find, and people began utilizing heroin and other illegal substances to treat their chronic pain or purchase narcotics on the black market.
Opioids and Acupuncture
Unfortunately, it appears that this epidemic will not be resolved anytime soon. As doctors begin to limit the number of prescriptions they write, more and more individuals are turning to acupuncture as an alternative method of pain relief.
Acupuncture needle stimulation enhances blood flow and promotes spontaneous healing. Receiving therapy using Traditional Chinese Medical techniques can also encourage your body to start manufacturing naturally occurring chemicals that are used to alleviate pain, so reducing chronic pain without creating an addiction. Acupuncture is thought to realign qi, or the body’s life force, to reduce pain and improve general health from the inside out!
Although there are many ways to treat opioid addiction, the reality is that the epidemic will last for generations, both physically and financially. Please get in touch with us and make an appointment if you have any further questions about opioid addiction and how acupuncture treatments could help you.