Having an addiction to opiates, it turns out, is not a rare condition. Things like sports injuries, stress fractures, back conditions, fibromyalgia, nerve damage, arthritis and more can lead to chronic pain in the old and young alike, pointing them to opioid pain medication for relief. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that (in 2017) about 1.7 million Americans suffered from a substance use disorder linked to opioid pain relivers, with about 650,000 of them using heroin as an alternative. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis However, statistics can never estimate the real usage rate, which may far surpass any statistics on record.
The NIDA also says that, that on average, 128 people die each day in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. In 2017 alone, statistics estimated that 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose. So, not only is opioid use rampant, but it’s killing us, our loved ones and our neighbors at an alarming rate.
So, how did this happen? It’s believed that around 100 million Americans (or roughly 1/3 of our citizens) are dealing with chronic pain. The study shares that, on average, about 20%-30% of people who report pain are prescribed opioids for chronic pain. Around 8%-12% develop an addiction. And, statistically speaking, about 80% of heroin users first abused prescription opiate medications, linking prescription medication directly to heroin use.
Putting aside all the facts, the reality is that we have an underserved population who is dealing with pain, and/or an addiction to opioids. Ultimately, we must provide alternative solutions to deal with all of the symptoms that cause people to rely on pain reliving opiates and heroin. If you have been struggling with opioid use and are looking for alternative solutions, please read on for some helpful advice that you can start to implement into your life today.
Alternatives to Pain Medication
While prescribing pain medication may have once been thought of as the “easy” solution for dealing with chronic pain, there are many other therapeutic modalities that can just as effectively improve, reduce or eliminate pain without the harmful effects that opioids have on the body. Not only do opioids not treat the pain (they mask it), they often cause other issues and can be extraordinarily difficult to wean off of. Here are some alternatives if you’re looking for pain relief options, or are looking to get off opioids for pain relief.
Acupuncture utilizes tiny needles that are inserted into the skin at targeted pressure points, or into strategic muscles, to help relieve pain. Not only may acupuncture relive pain but it’s also believed to balance energy – bringing the mind/body experience into equilibrium.
Cupping therapy utilizes small cup-like suction devices that use pressure to pull up on the skin and muscles of the target area, causing increased blood flow to the area. The increase in blood flow adds nourishment to the area helping to improve cell renewal and healing. Fresh, healthy blood in the target area actually helps create new blood vessels in the tissue. This natural approach to healing and muscle therapy is a great solution to help regenerate tissues and relieve pain through the body’s natural healing pathways.
Physical therapy is the art of manipulating the body using techniques such as massage, joint manipulation, cold laser therapy, microcurrent stimulation, hot and cold therapy and exercise therapy. A physical therapist is trained to help target the exact areas of concern, and over time, will help relieve or eliminate the pain altogether with ongoing treatment and at-home protocols for extended relief.
Fitness therapy can be very effective at helping improve pain as targeted fitness exercises can help strengthen the surrounding tissue, relieving tension and pressure around sore joints. Ongoing fitness therapy has the ability to restore stability in the joints and flexibility in the muscles. Furthermore, exercise therapy has the added benefit of naturally boosting energy, endorphins and mood!
Though still in its infancy, CBD Therapy (the use of cannabinoid oil to relieve pain) has been shown to help lower pain and inflammation around the applied area, helping conditions such as arthritis. Unlike other cannabinoids, like THC, CBD does not include the psychoactive chemicals that induce a “high” and is therefore considered a safe alternative to use for pain management. Therapists use CBD oil in massage therapy to treat areas of pain.
Chiropractic therapy tends to focus on the structure of the body, most notably the spine. Through targeted manipulation, a chiropractic session can help reduce pain by encouraging the body back into proper alignment. A chiropractor can also teach better ways to sit, stand and walk to improve posture and reduce chronic pain.
If we consider that pain is but a symptom of another problem, then trying to heal the area of pain with supplement therapy is a very thoughtful way to bring about pain relief. There are a wealth of supplements that have shown to improve joint health, including Turmeric, Glucosamine, and Omega-3 Fatty acids, which lower inflammation. Other supplements can help reduce pain, headaches, digestion issues, Arthritis pain and Fibromyalgia. For more on this, visit: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/vitamins/chronic-pain-relief?page=1 and consult your physician.
Yoga is an amazing technique that combines multiple body “exercises” into one to help restore holistic mind and body health. The physical art of yoga helps improve the muscle and joint system, strengthening muscles and opening up the joints, making them more capable of receiving replenishing, healthy cells for natural regeneration. The breathing facet of the practice helps deliver fresh blood and oxygen to all cells in the body, which also helps improve cell production and the bodies natural healing abilities. Finally, yoga is (fundamentally), a meditation. It helps balance the brain by inducing relaxation, meditation and introspection.
Hypnotherapy can be used to help train the brain to experience pain differently. While it is not often used as a standalone therapy for pain relief, it can be greatly effective when combined with other natural healing remedies to help reduce or eliminate chronic pain. In a typical session, the hypnotherapist guides the individual through a talking meditation to help them gain more control over their brain and thought processes. It’s believed to help reduce the psychological component that can be present or associated with chronic pain sufferers.
Addiction Counseling and Drug Rehabilitation
While the above therapy modalities are a wonderful alternative to taking prescription pain relievers and opioids, for the opioid addict or heroin user, the first step is to stop using, or significantly reduce the need to use medication for chronic pain. But chronic opioid use will permeate the body, causing excruciating withdrawal symptoms for the addict. It is often necessary to first undergo a medical detox to safely and comfortably detox from the existing opiates that have become part of the physiology of the patient.
Following detox, most people will benefit greatly from an inpatient treatment stay, where they have the ability to work 1-to-1 with a dedicated therapist and clinical team, learning how to cope with life without pain medication. Both physical and psychological withdrawals will linger for weeks and months at varying degrees for the individual. Inpatient and outpatient therapy will help impart tools and techniques to prevent relapse while helping guide the patient on a path toward sustainable recovery.
If you are looking for an opiate detox, or would like to know more about our opioid therapy track at Lumiere Healing Centers of Ohio, please call us at 513-901-4738. We’d be happy to explain our detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment options for opiate and heroin use, and how we have helped others to overcome their addiction to prescription pain relievers.
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