Today, managing pain seems to be becoming a major health challenge in the U.S. Research conducted by several national health agencies suggest that lower back pain is the most common neurological ailment, followed by a severe headache or a migraine, neck pain and facial ache in the U.S. Added to this is the reality that America is reeling under an opioid crisis, as revealed by statistics that disclose that an alarming six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, including prescription opioids and heroin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. In fact, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Therefore, a nationwide cultural transformation is essential to identify, assess, treat and prevent all types of pain. It is time that health care providers, health care professionals, government agencies, health care educators, patient advocacy groups and public and private funders of health care came forward to lead this initiative.
Although nowadays most of the news reports portray opioid addiction as a crisis rampant among the young, studies also suggest that it is progressively afflicting older adults as well. In fact, studies show that in the U.S., immediately after alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most widely abused class of drugs, succeeded by illicit street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Experts believe that the main cause of this epidemic is the deceptive tactics used by several pharmaceutical companies during the early 1990s to push their drugs into the markets, thereby contributing in great measure to the ongoing crisis. Companies such as Purdue Pharma were sued for their misleading advertisements for promoting OxyContin nationwide in 2000 by downplaying the addictive risks of the drug which has led to the present scenario. Unfortunately, due to the misbranding campaigns of such pharmaceutical giants, the U.S, which has 5 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for nearly 80 percent of prescription opioid use worldwide.
Reducing dependence on opioids is key to sobriety
Studies suggest that in the United States, the vast majority of people often tend to underestimate the dangers of prescription opioids owing to an intrinsic misconception about the FDA’s drug testing and approval system. Susceptible individuals are generally led into a false sense of security that the FDA has a diligent and robust drug trial and testing mechanism in place. But, is actually far from reality, as the present system pushes the onus of clinical trials on the drug manufacturing company. Moreover, prescription pain relievers are certainly a cheaper alternative to treat pain.
However, when it comes to long-term solutions, experts in the medical community insist that a personalized and multi-disciplinary method which includes alternative treatment options such as physical therapy and complementary medicines should be the way ahead. Other options that can be considered include:
- Determining if a specific prescription drug is an opioid or not, as names of medicines can be perplexing and difficult to remember.
- Refraining from using prescription opioids if an individual is on other medicines such as benzodiazepines, used by those battling conditions of, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
- Choosing non-addictive NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib (Celebrex) and diclofenac (Voltaren).
- Beginning with a lower dose to treat a painful condition and progressing to a higher dose as advised by the physician.
- Reducing the dose once the pain has subsided to prevent undesirable withdrawal effects.
Additionally, medical professionals, patients, along with pharmacists, play an important role in identifying and preventing nonmedical use of prescription drugs. No stone must be left unturned in including more evidence-based screening mechanisms as a part of any medical consultation, in addition to emphasizing other alternative treatment options, if necessary.
The need of the hour is to ensure that all citizens battling addiction can access professional support, which includes handy information on non-opioid medications to manage pain and addiction, as well as counseling to lead a healthy life. Further, pharmacists must monitor customers to identify fake or altered prescriptions, which could lead to non-medical use of opioids.
Addiction is treatable
Sadly, innumerable individuals are not even aware of how vulnerable they are to an addiction and could easily end up abusing drugs. The only way to break free from the clutches of a deadly addiction to any substance is to undertake a focused and expert-led treatment for addiction to prescription drugs at a professional drug addiction rehabilitation center, excelling in such treatments.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to stop using harmful substances despite the adverse impact on his or her life. Our customized addiction treatment services at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are aimed ar treating the person holistically.
If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to any prescription drug, call our 24/7 helpline number now or chat online to get more information about the most effective drug addiction programs at our state-of-the-art centers, spread across the U.S.