Opioid Addiction: Can Chiropractic Curb the Issue?
Perhaps you’ve heard about an epidemic facing our country: It’s opioid addiction. When we take painkillers, especially conventional medical opioids, the drug binds to specific receptors in the brain. This gives us the perception of less pain, an effect that can be extremely beneficial. The best example is if someone has just been involved in a serious accident and has sustained injuries that either prevent movement or bring about intense pain that prevents patient compliance in order to receive lifesaving care. In both instances, the goal must be to calm down the individual, and that’s when opioids and their “painlessness” are very helpful.
The problem comes in when a patient continues to take opioids for the new chronic pain. Taking opioids over time will result in the body building a resistance to the substance. Where 1–2 tablets were all that was needed to “take the edge off,” now 6–8 are needed to achieve the same result.
But who cares? If more is needed, then more is needed, right? Wrong. Side effects are misrepresented. We think if something is a side effect, we are not likely to experience it. But reality paints a very different picture.
Side effects build up in the body. The more we take and the longer we take it, the greater chance that the unintended side effect or consequence will appear. One such consequence is constipation. In the short term, constipation isn’t the worst thing in the world; however, over time, constipation can lead to intestinal polyps, diverticulitis, and other serious issues that lead to life-changing events. Another consequence is failure of the liver and kidneys, as both organs are responsible for filtering substances that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Now, more medication is needed to keep us “regular” and/or to prevent our liver and kidneys from shutting down.
When quitting conventional medical opioids, all of us experience different symptoms. Duration, dosage, and reason for taking them in the first place all play a role in determining the level of withdrawal thata patient will experience. But why is there withdrawal in the first place? If we don’t use something, our body will surmise—correctly—that our energy is better expended elsewhere. In other words, our natural pain killers have not had to activate since the beginning of the opioid use. We have now become hypersensitive to all bodily insults. Common body injuries, such as bumping our shoulder, might feel like we’ve just broken it.
Without a steady supply of the pain medication, we begin to look to other forms of relief to quell our opioid addiction. For a long time, this came in the form of alcohol. But now, government agencies have seen an increasingly direct correlation between the removal of medical opioid painkillers and an uptake in recreational heroin use—heroin being an opioid. In fact, a patient is 40 times more likely to move to heroin when denied conventional opioid pain relief. FORTY TIMES!
Chiropractic is an excellent form of pain management. At MG Chiropractic, we can help to put your joints back into place, which helps your muscles to relax and your movement becomes stronger. Additionally, we provide exercise tips and natural support that can empower you to reclaim your life without medication, its side effects, or an addiction.
- AddictionBlog.com. “The epidemic nobody saw: The opioid crisis in America.” Addiction Blog May 31, 2016. Online article accessed October 19, 2016.
- DrugAbuse.gov. National Institute of Drug Abuse from the National Institutes of Health. “America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse.” Presented by Nora D. Volkow, MD, to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. May 14, 2014. Online article accessed October 19, 2016.