Painkillers, just like any other thing or technology created by humans, can be a benefit or a hazard.
Obviously, in this particular case, we’re talking about health, i.e. this is an important topic, and the truth is that painkillers definitely have their use now and then. However, if you follow the news, you must be aware of the opioid epidemic sweeping America. Opioid is just another name for painkiller pills, and according to various studies, there are almost 60,000 Americans dying each year from opioid overdoses.
Since Medicaid covers the bill, Big Pharma makes tons of money from selling painkillers to the general public. Even is a prescription is usually required, easy access to highly addictive drugs at no cost leads to the exact outcome you would expect. Medicaid beneficiaries are twice as likely to have an opioid prescription as the general population, and they’re also 3 to 6 times more likely to overdose on them. The consequences of bad policy and corporate greed have been a disaster, and experts claim that America is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in the history of the country.
The Sackler family—the ultra-wealthy family that made billions from illegally marketed opioids and the group largely blamed for sparking and fueling the devastating, $504 billion-per-year epidemic of opioid addiction—has been making even more money off the country’s drug crisis than previously thought, according to a series of reports by the Financial Times.
The problem is systemic.
New York Times:
Officials called the indictments, which were unsealed in federal court in Cincinnati on Wednesday, the “single largest prescription opioid law enforcement operation in history.”
The indictments accuse 60 people, including 31 doctors, seven pharmacists and eight nurses, of involvement in the schemes, which included prescribing opioids for gratuitous medical procedures like unnecessary tooth pulling. In some cases, prosecutors said, doctors simply handed out signed blank prescription forms.
“These cases involve approximately 350,000 opioid prescriptions and more than 32 million pills — the equivalent of a dose of opioids for every man, woman and child across the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia combined,” Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said at a news conference.
Things are so bad, that President Trump declared the situation to be a national public health emergency, saying during a speech that “nobody has seen anything like” it.
Mr Trump said:
More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined. These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids. The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”
To give you a little bit of perspective, America’s casualties during the war in Vietnam are estimated to be around 60,000 (killed in action), and almost 150,000 wounded. Remember that we’re talking about a full scale war here which took place between 1955 and 1975, for 20 years respectively.
Well, America’s opioid crisis kills the same amount of Americans each year. Basically, we lose almost 60,000 people (give or take) year by year during peace-time from drug (painkillers) overdoses; almost 66 percent of the deaths are due to 4 drugs: OxyContin, Vicodin, heroin, and fentanyl. Since painkillers are highly addictive and many people die from opioid/painkiller induced conditions (think along the lines of pneumonia), it’s possible that the 60,000 figure is very conservative, as painkiller induced conditions are not being counted as overdoses.
According to NIDA, over 130 people die every day in the US after overdosing on painkillers (opioids), and the most affected by the problem are young white men, many of which are coming from middle class and upper-middle class backgrounds.
The nation’s opioid crisis is killing young white American men more than any other demographic group, new research from the federal government reveals. The latest report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds that young white men in the United States are dying at the fastest rate from fentanyl, the deadly opioid where one pound can kill more than 220,000 people.
Here’s an interesting documentary about America’s struggle with the opioid addiction. Which brings us to today’s topic: okay, so you’re saying that painkillers are incredibly addictive and deadly in the long run, but what’s the alternative Chris? I have a bad back and my knee is killing me…
The short answer is: have you ever heard of CBD oil?
Since over 25,000,000 Americans suffer from chronic pain and more than 2 million are officially addicted to painkillers, telling someone to renounce opioids now and go ”full commando/all natural/bio/organic” may sound unrealistic. However, the alternative is to become dependent on painkillers, and besides risking overdosing on them, long term use comes with all sorts of health issues, ranging from mild side-effects like vomiting, nausea, sweating and constipation to more serious things like respiratory depression, delirium, or urinary retention, to name just a few.
Getting back to CBD oil, did you know that even the US Justice Department admits that prescription opiates are some of the most lethal substances available to the general public (along with heroin by the way) ? However, the FDA has approved OxyContin (a powerful painkiller) for children as young as eleven. The obvious solution for reducing opioid deaths/ addiction in chronic pain patients is definitely decriminalizing marijuana. Yeah, you read that right: chemical compounds in the marijuana plant (also known as cannabis) come with a number of health benefits which include pain management.
Speaking of public health, CBD oil/marijuana has a safety profile that exceeds opioid based painkillers by leaps and bounds. It’s literally impossible to die from a marijuana overdose, and in states where medical marijuana was made legal, opioid related deaths dropped by a whopping 25 percent (we’re talking thousands of lives here) within the first year of legalization. Medical marijuana can also be successfully used to help wean patients off opioids, and has a long history as a natural analgesic.
Besides marijuana/cannabis, there are other herbal remedies for treating chronic pain, including Kratom which is literally used as an opioid substitute; however, back in 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration listed Kratom as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and declared it an opioid. Despite that weird classification, Kratom is safer than synthetic opioids for treating chronic pain, but it makes for a psychoactive substance which must be taken under close supervision, and there’s little scientific literature showing how to use it safely and effectively.
Wild Opium Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) makes for another interesting option if you’re looking for a natural substitute to painkillers, as the sap of the plant’s leaves mimics opium, hence its name. Here’s a study from the 19th century regarding its curative properties. Here’s another one from 2009.
Curcumin is a natural substance with powerful anti-inflammatory activity; just like CBD oil/medical marijuana, curcumin is very safe to use, and turmeric extract is successfully used to reduce pain and increase mobility in osteoarthritis patients.
Ginger is also a potent anti-inflammatory herb, as well as boswellia, not to mention bromelain supplements (bromelain is found in pineapples), devil’s claw, clove oil and capsaicin (supplements). Massage, acupuncture and exercising regularly can help to alleviate chronic pain, as endorphins are released during physical activity, and as I already told you in my previous article, endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.
Yoga is also scientifically proven to help with certain types of chronic pain, especially neck pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain.
I hope the article helped. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think in the dedicated section below. Stay healthy.