By Gordon Dickler- CAC, ICADC
Opiate painkillers are by far the most prescribed medications in the United States today. According to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, over 289 million prescriptions are written each year for analgesic pain relievers. And this is just the beginning. Recent studies show that despite making up only five percent of the world’s population, the United States now consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid pain medication.
The opiate epidemic is clear, especially as prescription drug addictions continue to lead users into heroin abuse and fatal overdoses. Fortunately, however, more and more people have begun to recognize the dangers associated with prescription drugs. Many, including those in recovery, are now actively looking for alternative pain relieving methods – methods that do not involve highly addictive drugs.
While opiates are undoubtedly effective at relieving pain, these drugs can also stir severe consequences when used repeatedly. A physical addiction, for example, can develop within just four weeks of prescription painkiller use. A psychological dependence to opiates, on the other hand, can develop in as little as two days. And this is just the beginning. Repeated opiate use can lead to chronic respiratory issues, depression, as well as damage to the immune system.
If you are working towards recovery, have addictive tendencies, or simply desire safer pain treatments, know that there are alternatives available that will not disrupt your balanced, substance-free life. Some of these safer options will come in the form of behavioral therapies. Some can be purchased right over-the-counter. Some may already be in your own home. Here are a few of the alternatives to opiates that Turnbridge* recommends for those who are living sober:
Natural Pain Remedies:
Making a decision about pain treatment, especially for those in recovery, is undeniably difficult. Drug addiction now affects more Americans than cancer. All the while, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.
Current pharmaceutical practice is, “Prescribe an opioid, make it better.” But with over 20 million Americans struggling with addition, this mindset is no longer relevant. Striking a balance between effective pain management and drug prevention will be key to overcoming these long-standing epidemics. Alternatives to opiate drugs will be key to the health and well-being of those walking the road to recovery – especially the adolescents and young adults who are particularly susceptible to substance addiction. Together, we can start making healthier choices regarding drug use.
To attend a SMART Recovery meeting for help with an addiction to opiates or other substances or behaviors, you can find the schedule of meetings most helpful to you on our website.
*About the author: Gordon Dickler – CAC, ICADC. Gordon is the Director of Admissions at Turnbridge, a young adult drug treatment center located in New Haven, Connecticut. Here, his chief role is to help families in crisis find hope and help for their loved ones in need. As both a Turnbridge graduate and a board-certified substance abuse counselor, Gordon has an intimate understanding of Turnbridge’s powerful ability to help young men and women overcome addiction and mental health disorders. This unique perspective allows him to relate deeply to clients and families struggling with addiction, and to explain at a foundational level the many aspects of Turnbridge’s Preparative Care Program.
Hi my name is Anna. I got into cocaine and later heroin when I got into the club scene. My friends and I had a great time in our late teens and 20's. However things took a turn for the worse after I was not the cute young girl in the club anymore. I decided I did not want to be defined by drugs or the clubs. I have been living for Jesus ever since. Sharing my struggle and my glory which is revealed in him.