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A Public Health Alert: The Opioid Epidemic

NOTE: Never (EVER), discontinue medication without discussing it with your prescribing physician. The information contained here is for informational purposes and general knowledge only.

You’ve heard it on the news a lot lately: the abuse of prescription opioids is an international epidemic. We’ve seen an alarming uptick of opioid addiction in our office in the past few years, and it’s not surprising: the estimates are that between 26 million and 36 million people are abusing these drugs. Yes, between 26 and 36 million. Let that number sink in for a minute…

There is also glaring evidence of opioid abusers turning to heroin as a cheaper and more easily obtained alternative, with several studies showing about half of all heroin injectors started with prescription opioids.

We’ve also seen something called Opioid Tolerance: many people who take opioids for pain have to take greater dosages over time for the medication to be effective. And, for the last 10 years or so, we’ve been hearing about Opioid Hyperalgesia: a condition in which these medications can make a patient MORE sensitive to pain.

Now comes a study from the University of Colorado – Boulder showing that even a brief exposure to opioid medication can cause an INCREASE in chronic pain. “We found the treatment was contributing to the problem”, said CU – Boulder Assistant Research Professor Peter Grace. “The implications for people taking opioids…are great, since we show the short-term decision to take such opioids can have devastating consequences of making pain worse and longer lasting,” according to co-lead researcher Distinguished Professor Linda Watkins.

Since its inception, the focus of chiropractic treatment has always been to treat the underlying cause of pain. We do so without the use of drugs or surgery, recognizing of course, the time and place for such interventions. The safety and efficacy of chiropractic care is well-researched. “Chiropractic physicians are well positioned to serve as a first line of defense in the conservative management of acute and chronic pain” noted the American Chiropractic Association President Dr. David Herd. Dr. Herd relates that over 33.6 million people sought chiropractic care in 2014 – – 13 million more than in 2012. We can anticipate this number to climb as people seek alternatives for pain management.

Learn more about the American Chiropractic Association’s statement on recent legislation aimed at combating the nation’s opioid epidemic. And talk to your doctor about alternatives.


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