The Opioid Crisis: How Did We End Up Here? Bottom Line: About 30 years ago, there was a fundamental shift in medicine as to how pain was understood and treated. The number of people with chronic pain seemed to be rising, and it is thought that the options to address the pain weren’t adequate. Why it Matters: As doctors paid more attention to assessing pain, they also paid more attention to treating pain. Opioid medication began to be prescribed more often frequently for symptoms such as chronic low back or neck pain. Up until then, opioids were only prescribed for severe pain after surgery or in advanced-stage cancer. But, in the early 1990s, that all changed. New opioids formulas were promoted as being less addictive, and physicians were encouraged to prescribe these drugs far more liberally than before. Prescribing these drugs very quickly led to a variety of problems. First, patients rapidly adapted to the drugs, requiring larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect over time. Second, these drugs weren’t very effective at addressing chronic pain. They provided short term relief, but as time went on, they seemed to become less useful for a lot of people. Finally, these drugs provided a euphoric feeling that quickly led to addiction. – Starting in the 1990’s, doctors were encouraged to prescribed opioids for chronic pain. – It’s estimated that 59% of opioids users report having experienced back pain. – In the US alone, there is an average of 130 deaths per day due to opioids. Next Steps: Now 30 years later, we are consumed with the opioid crisis. Over 130 people die each day from opioids, and over 40% of those deaths are from prescribed opioids. If there is a silver lining to this crisis, it’s that we now realize that the answers and treatment of chronic pain is rarely found in a bottle. Many leading healthcare organizations are now recommending nonpharmacological approaches to treatment of chronic pain, including chiropractic. This month our practice will be focusing on providing you with information on how you can overcome pain without the use of drugs. It’s time to get your life back naturally!
Science Source(s): Understanding the Epidemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018