(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid epidemic continues to worsen year after year. In 2015, painkillers and heroin killed more than 33,000 people, according to the CDC. About half of those overdoses involved prescription pain medication.
New policies and laws introduced in recent years aim to prevent the number of opioid prescriptions distributed. However, these stricter policies come riddled with negative consequences. For example, chronic pain sufferers are finding it more and more difficult to manage their pain with opioids now that some of these laws have been implemented.
An article in The Tennessean references a woman named Bridget Rewick. Rewick has experienced pain for all of her adult life. At 56 years old, she is on disability. She does not work and worries about the strain on her body from being out. Pain swells through her body causing her to need a cane to walk.
She has avascular necrosis, which means her bone tissues are dying faster than her body can repair it. Rewick uses opioid painkillers to manage her pain. However, these days, when she goes to the pharmacist, she says she gets looks. She admits she feels judged by the increasingly conscious medical community.
“I am almost afraid to go to the doctor sometimes to say I have pain,” Rewick says. “Because I don’t want be seen as a pill seeker.”
Unfortunately for Rewick, she has more than judgment to worry about. The recent federal crackdowns on drug abuse have resulted in stricter guidelines on the use of opioids to address chronic pain.
Opioid Limits State by State
In Tennessee, there is now a limit set by the Department of Health on how many daily doses of opioids doctors may prescribe. New guidelines spell out protocols for giving drugs to women of child-bearing age and establish certification requirements for pain medicine specialist.
Tennessee is not the only state seeing these types of policies. Across the country, new legislatures limit the amount of opioids and range of opioids that can be prescribed. Therefore, chronic pain patients are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their pain, without having to overcome assumptions and red tape.
In fact, some doctors have opted to stop prescribing opioids completely.
This leaves those with legitimate chronic pain with fewer places to turn to. While most chronic pain patients agree that it is absolutely necessary to tackle opioid addiction issues, they still believe there are legitimate pain sufferers who struggle to find relief.
“This epidemic has destroyed people’s lives, and I think the motivation (to regulate) is appropriate,” Rewick says. “But they don’t understand the ramifications of how pain affects people every day. … I am not expecting to be completely without pain, but I have the right to have quality of life.”
In the United States, at least 100 million adults suffer from common chronic pain conditions. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 90 days. Chronic pain can range from disease to injury. Sometimes the cause of chronic pain is unknown.
Sadly, chronic pain reduces quality of life and productivity. It disturbs sleep and can lead to anxiety and depression. Chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability.
Building Relationships and Trust
Furthermore, it is difficult for doctors to know if a patient is authentic. No one can look a patient and know for sure if their claim of pain is insecure.
Dr. John Guenst, an internal medicine doctor with Saint Thomas Medical Group, sees chronic pain patients all the time. He believes the relationship is the most important factor.
“You have to listen to their story; you have to examine them, you have to start from scratch without your bias and turn over every stone that is reasonable,” he said. “You are giving patients the benefit of the doubt.”
Guenst said his opioid prescription rate “is very low compared to my peers, but I am not afraid to use them.”
Clinics Say No to Opioid Prescriptions?
Still, some medical professionals have decided not to prescribe all-together. Last year, Tennova, one of the largest health systems in Tennessee, decided to no longer prescribe long-term opioid pain medications to patients at two pain management clinics.
This was a response to recent CDC guidelines. Although the guidelines set by the CDC are voluntary, many doctors around the country are adopting them and are weaning patients off opioids or choosing not to prescribe them at all.
These sudden changes come with good intentions; however, it remains a tricky manner. Untreated chronic pain is connected to depression, mental illness, financial problems, and even further substance abuse.
What is the solution to this? Time will tell. However, it is clear this is a serious problem with an even more complicated solution. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Why is Everyone Talking about Turmeric?
No really, I want to know.
Recently, we published an article about the connection between chronic pain and addiction. The article garnered a variety of comments, and many people suggested that those with chronic pain use turmeric to treat their symptoms. Truthfully, this is far from the first time I have heard turmeric suggested for medical purposes.
Where is all the hoopla about turmeric coming from? Is turmeric the new kale?
Not exactly. In fact, turmeric has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. In India, turmeric was used for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
It was not until recently that scientists caught on to what Indians have known for a long time: turmeric contains strong medicinal properties. It helps with virtually all types of medical problems.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. The compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids; the most important is called Curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
Surprisingly, the Curcumin content in turmeric is not that high. It’s estimated to be around 3% by weight. Therefore, if you want the full medicinal benefits of turmeric, it is recommended to take turmeric extracts that contain mostly Curcumin itself. Otherwise, it would be challenging to reach these levels on your own simply by using turmeric spice.
Curcumin is not absorbed into the bloodstream, so it is recommended to consume black pepper with it. Black pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of Curcumin by 2000%.
To sum it up: Turmeric contains Curcumin, a substance that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Recently, the spice gained a huge following from those who benefit from its medicinal properties. As we enter an era where more people are opposed to prescription medications, natural alternatives are making a major comeback.
Turmeric Medicinal Benefits
There have been thousands of peer-reviewed articles proving the benefits of turmeric and the healing compounds Curcumin. In fact, turmeric is the most frequently mentioned medicinal herb in all of science! Other popularly studied herbals include garlic, cinnamon, ginseng, ginger and milk thistle.
Compared to conventional medicine, the benefits of turmeric equal to that of many pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, some studies report that using Curcumin is more advantageous than certain prescription drugs.
Health Benefits of Turmeric:
Turmeric offers similar benefits to painkillers, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol drugs, and so much more.
Some specific benefits are:
Preventing Blood Clotting
Turmeric is shown to offer the same benefits as medications intended to slow and prevent blood clots such as aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix) and warfarin. Unlike some of these drugs which pose serious health risks like excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, turmeric has no known side effects unless taken in very heavy doses. Since the mid-1980s, the Curcumin in turmeric has been suggested by researchers as a better alternative to those with vascular thrombosis.
While there are not many studies conducted on humans, dozens of trials have proven that turmeric is especially effective in correcting depression symptoms in laboratory animals. Curcumin was found to be as effective as antidepressants in managing depression. More studies are needed to understand the mood enhancing properties of Curcumin fully.
Arguably the most powerful and popular use of Curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. The journal Oncogene revealed several anti-inflammatory compounds. The study found Curcumin to be among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world, even compared to aspirin and ibuprofen. Diseases today like cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol and chronic pain are partly related to inflammation.
As mentioned below, Curcumin helps with inflammation. A study conducted compared the benefit of Curcumin in turmeric to arthritis drugs that had side effects like leaky gut and heart disease. The study found the highest improvement in patients who took Curcumin compared to the rheumatoid arthritis medication. Since there are fewer side effects in the use of Curcumin, this could be a better option for patients struggling to manage their arthritis.
One of the most widely accepted properties of Curcumin is the pain management properties. Research released discovered that Curcumin naturally activates the opioid system in diabetics rap. Typically manipulated by painkillers, this natural process serves as the body’s inherent pain-relieving response. However, Curcumin does not have the risk of opioid dependency like painkillers such as oxycodone do, therefore the risk fo dependency diminishes.
Could Turmeric Help Combat Opioid Epidemic?
The benefits of turmeric go so much further than this article. Of course, is always crucial to talk about different treatment options with your doctor. Do not attempt to change your regimen without professional guidance.
Still, turmeric could help with pain management, which may improve the risk of opioid dependency overall. What are your thoughts? Could turmeric really make a difference? Have you used it?
Nevertheless, if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, please reach out. We want to help you. Do not wait. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Chronic pain can be extremely difficult to manage. Pain management involves a variety of treatment options, but one area that desperately needs attention is the psychological impact of chronic pain. According to researchers, about half of adults with chronic pain also experience anxiety or mood disorders like depression.
The findings, published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders, highlight the need to offer treatment and resources to those struggling with the psychological impact of chronic pain.
“The dual burden of chronic physical conditions and mood and anxiety disorders is a significant and growing problem,” said Silvia Martins, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.
The research examined data to analyze the associations between mood and anxiety disorder and self-reported chronic physical conditions. 5,037 participants in São Paulo, Brazil participated in the interview process.
Among individuals with mood disorders, chronic pain was reported by 50 percent, followed by respiratory disease at 33 percent, cardiovascular disease at 10 percent, arthritis by 9 percent, and diabetes by 7 percent.
Anxiety disorders were also common among those with chronic pain reported at 45 percent, and respiratory at 30 percent, as well as arthritis and cardiovascular disease, each 11 percent.
“These results shed new light on the public health impact of the dual burden of physical and mental illness,” said Dr. Martins. “Chronic disease coupled with a psychiatric disorder is a pressing issue that health providers should consider when designing preventive interventions and treatment services — especially the heavy mental health burden experienced by those with two or more chronic diseases.”
Chronic Pain and Painkiller Addiction
One common treatment for chronic pain is the use of prescription painkillers. Opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet affect specific parts of the brain that reduce the perception of pain. However, along with reducing the perception of pain, these medications also release feel-good chemicals in the brain, often leading to dependence.
With this study, it is clear why chronic pain sufferers are susceptible to opioid dependence due to a variety of factors including the need for feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are lacking in those with depression and anxiety.
Many patients who take prescription painkillers do so without forming any dependence. In some, opioid use generates negative side effects such as nausea, making them more unwilling to use the drug’s long-term. Still, some individuals are so desperate for pain relief, that they take larger doses than prescribed more frequently. Not long after, a full-blown addiction develops.
It is important to note that there is no way to know whether a prescription painkiller user will develop an addiction to opioids. However, factors like having a family history of addiction, struggling with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, or experiencing a past trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse all increase the risk. Those who have struggled with previous addiction are at a higher risk as well.
Another dangerous aspect of opioid addiction is that it often leads to heroin use. Health officials confirm that this is not uncommon. Because painkillers are more difficult to obtain and more expensive, many users turn to using heroin. Heroin is in a similar drug classification as opioids and is easy to obtain for cheap on the street.
Overall, this study says a lot about the way mental disorders and addiction often go hand in hand. That’s why so many treatment centers offer a dual diagnosis program. Therefore, if you struggle with mental illness, addiction or both, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Using needles to heal addicts is nothing new. Those who practice and promote holistic healing are often familiar with the concept. In recovery, the needle can mean something totally different than what it meant in addiction. For some it opens up a new world of medical treatment they never knew was possible. Acupuncture itself is actually much more powerful than some may realize, and a recent study only magnifies the usefulness of going under the needle for chronic pain and mental health.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library now features a report where the researchers show there is significant evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture provides more than a placebo effect.
To clarify, a placebo is a substance or treatment with no active therapeutic effect. These kinds of treatment may be given to a person in order to trick the recipient into thinking that it is an active treatment, meaning the answer is all in the mind.
This new data suggests there is an active therapeutic element to acupuncture.
Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Pain
Professor of Acupuncture Research, Hugh MacPherson, helped bring together this research with a team of scientists from the UK and US. The data is strung together using the results of 29 high-quality clinical trials. These trials specifically reviewed patients treated with acupuncture, alongside standard medical care.
For most of the clinical trials, patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture and standard medical care were tested against those who were provided with standard medical care alone. The standard medical care includes treatment such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
Those examined were approximately 18,000 patients diagnosed with chronic pain of areas such as:
- Lower back
According to the published reports, the addition of acupuncture to complement standard medical treatment has a few powerful effects. Acupuncture was able to:
- Significantly reduce the number of headaches and migraine attacks
- Reduce the severity of neck and lower back pain
- Reduce the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, which led to patients being less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs
Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Depression
The teams report also includes a new clinical trial for the impact on depression. During these trials acupuncture or counselling was compared to the effectiveness of antidepressants and related medications.
Researchers sourced from 755 patients with depression in the North of England. The new study shows that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression. Not only did they reduce the severity, but the benefits were generally continuous for up to 12 months after the initial treatment. So the long-term implications alone are pretty exciting to see.
Professor MacPherson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, has said:
“The front-line treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients.
“In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counselling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”
Professor MacPherson believes that because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on using acupuncture for treatment with more confidence, this new data provides a significant step forward in managing and treating chronic pain and depression.
Clinic Trials: True Acupuncture VS Sham Acupuncture
As stated in the beginning, many believed acupuncture’s benefits to be at least partially associated with placebo effects. With this doubt hanging over it, the uncertainty of it’s clinical effectiveness has stunted its growth.
Professor MacPherson says that this new research provides definitive evidence that acupuncture can work to treat chronic pain; that in doing so the reductions in pain are substantially more than those measured from what is called “sham acupuncture.”
Sham acupuncture is only for clinical trials for research purposes. This “sham” method involves inserting needles at the ‘wrong’ locations, or using non-inserted needles (fake needles) at the correct locations. Having data to attest that ‘true’ acupuncture has significantly more effect in reducing pain than ‘sham’ acupuncture offers evidence that it is not simply a placebo effect.
This research also asserts that this kind of treatment is cost effective. With the value for money being rated as less than the threshold of £20,000 cost per quality of life year; a metric for measuring cost-effectiveness used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). MacPherson went on to state:
“There has been a question mark for many years over whether policy and decision makers should or should not provide wider access to acupuncture. Our aim was to bring together data from high quality clinical trials and provide a robust evidence base that will help reduce this uncertainty and support commissioners and health professionals in making informed decisions backed up with research.”
Professor MacPherson insists that not only is it more cost effective than medications, but acupuncture reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects, such as physical dependence or abuse.
In the world of addiction, pain and depression are often simultaneous with substance use disorder. Many people who battle with addiction also fight to overcome depression, and countless people have become addicted to opioids as a result of prolonged dependence on prescription pain medications. As we move toward more innovations in prevention and intervention, innovations in treatment are more important than ever.
For years Palm Partners has believed in the healing power of acupuncture and offered the opportunity for people struggling with substances to have access to this powerful resource on their path to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Over the last decade, the increase in opiate painkiller abuse and heroin abuse has been alarming to say the least. The 2014 statistics state that a person dies every 4 minutes from a drug overdose or alcohol-related event. Prescription pain killer abuse is an epidemic in the United States and as a result, alternatives are being considered to prevent more and more people from developing a dependency to opioids. Are there better methods of managing chronic pain?
Many believe so and are pushing for a change. While opioid medications are effective at reducing pain, they are very addictive, and other alternatives should be looked at before doctors prescribe opioid medications.
So, what options are available? Fortunately, there are a variety of options available for pain relief that range from non-opioid medications to non-medicinal therapies. Discussing these options with your doctor can help provide you with a pain management program that has a lower risk for dependency.
The Best Opiate Alternatives
- Over-the-Counter Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen is a drug more commonly known by the brand name Tylenol. It is recommended as a first-line of treatment by the American College of Rheumatology. While scientists are not sure on how the drug works, most theorize the drug works by inhibiting the synthesis of chemical messengers called prostaglandins, which help to transmit pain signals and induce fever. This drug is non-addictive and can be very effective.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are more potent than acetaminophen and include anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve. These drugs work by reducing inflammation; however they run a risk of risk of organ toxicity, kidney or liver failure and ulcers. Use in moderation for optimum success.
Steroids inhibits nerves in the body and provide pain relief. The drawbacks to steroids are that they can potentially accelerate join destruction. Other side effects can include immune system suppression, gastrointestinal issues and psychiatric effects.
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitors
Anti-depressants may be appropriate for nerve, muscular and skeletal pain. They also help with insomnia and anxiety. This is a great alternative because these drugs do not have the same side effects of opioids.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy requires more work from the patient but can be extremely useful in improving physical healing and relieving pain long-term. Physical therapy can be done in sessions and recommended exercises can often be done at home.
- Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care
Acupuncture is an ancient art form that has been used for thousands of years. Some find acupuncture to be just as effective, if not more effective than medications. On the bonus side, it is a totally natural safe alternative to opioid medication.
Exercise is beneficial for so many reasons. Surprisingly, exercise has been shown to be healing for those with chronic pain. Low-impact exercises can help improve mobility and functionality. Activities like yoga and ta-chi can be helpful for many ailments.
Chronic pain affects millions. Whether we like it or not, pain is a real occurrence, and sometimes opioid medications may be the only option. However, if other alternatives and other methods of care can be promoted, it can help prevent the amount of patients suffering from dependence to these drugs. Often, taking a prescription opioid may not be the best option. As the prescription pain killer epidemic continues to gain media attention and political awareness,more attention should be placed on prevention methods, as well as treatment.
Overall, ask your doctor to weigh the alternative options available. Together, both of you can decide the best method of pain management. What do you think? Should doctors weight other options? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.