Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Synthetic Opiods Flooding Post Office

bottle of pills

 

Synthetic Opioids Flooding Into US Via Postal Service

 

According to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50.1 Preliminary data for 2016 reveals the death toll from drug overdoses may be as high as 65,000,2 a 19 percent increase since the year before, and the largest annual increase of drug overdose deaths in U.S. history. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests over 202,600 Americans died from opioids between 2002 and 2015.3

 

Opioid abuse has also been identified as a significant factor in rising unemployment among men. A 2016 paper4 found nearly half of all unemployed men between the ages of 25 and 54 are using opioids on a daily basis. Two-thirds of them, about 2 million, are on prescription opioids. A follow-up study5 looking at the opioid epidemic’s impact on the American labor force suggests chronic opioid use accounted for 20 percent of the increase in male unemployment between 1999 and 2015.

 

Synthetic Opioid Use Is on the Rise

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include6 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®). Tragically, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are also being abused by a rising number of people. Deadly overdoses involving fentanyl rose by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, and another 72 percent between 2014 and 2015. Over 20,000 of the drug overdose deaths in 2016 were attributed to fentanyl and/or other synthetic opioids.7

 

With a potency nearly 1,000 percent greater than morphine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are very easy to distribute via mail. A single standard envelope can hold enough fentanyl to get 50,000 people high. Last summer, The New York Times8 reported the deaths of two 13-year-old boys who died after taking the synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as “pinky.” They got the drug from a friend who bought it on the dark web using bitcoin.

 

Fentanyl Flooding Into US Via Regular Mail

As recently reported by STAT News9 and ABC News,10 Chinese drug sellers are exploiting the federal government’s inability to track and identify shipments of illicit drugs sent via international mail.

 

They’re simply shipping fentanyl to the U.S. via the U.S. Postal Service, as this is a “virtually guaranteed route to not get caught” — this despite a 375 percent increase in international mail seizures between 2016 and 2017. (Interception and seizure of domestic packages containing opioids increased by 880 percent.) As explained by STAT News:11

 

“Part of the reason for this confidence has to do with differences in how well Customs and Border Protection [CBP] can track packages from the various carriers … Much of CBP’s tracking is done using advanced electronic data — basic shipping information required on FedEx and other delivery services packages, but not required for USPS shipments. Only about 36 percent of USPS shipments have the advanced data, a fact which complicates CBP’s tracking efforts.

 

CBP flags potentially problematic shipments to the carriers, which find and turn over the packages for inspection. CBP can also ask USPS to monitor all packages from a specific country, but has struggled to address the large volume of shipments from China. Some sellers also routed their packages through other countries to avoid that detection.”

 

Federal Report Calls for Improvements to Identify and Track Illicit Drug Shipments

The potency of fentanyl makes exposure to even minuscule amounts an extreme hazard. As reported by CBS News in May 2017,12 a police officer nearly died after being exposed to fentanyl dust during a routine traffic stop. Fortunately, he survived, but needed no less than four doses of naloxone. Drug-sniffing dogs are also at risk, as inhaling just a few flakes of the drug can be lethal. It stands to reason the drug may also pose a risk to mail and customs workers, should the package rupture during transit or handling.

 

Disturbingly, a report by the Senate subcommittee on investigations suggests hundreds of millions of dollars of fentanyl are entering the U.S. via the Postal Service, as the federal government is simply not equipped to track or prevent it. A majority of these drugs are coming from China. Of six online sellers offering fentanyl, five are located in China while the location of the sixth is as yet unknown.

 

According to the report, more than 300 individuals based in the U.S. have received shipments from these vendors, and more than 500 Western Union transactions totaling $230,000 have been identified. While buyers were found in 43 states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania received the greatest number of shipments.

 

The street value of these orders is estimated to be around $766 million. The investigation also concluded that at least seven individuals have died from overdosing after receiving a shipment of fentanyl from these vendors.

 

The bipartisan report is now calling for a number of improvements within the federal government, including advanced electronic data for all international mail. It also urges CBP to increase inspections of packages to identify shipments of illicit drugs, and to automate processing of packages from targeted locations.

 

Doctors Receive Kickbacks for Prescribing Opioids, Including Fentanyl

Another factor that contributes to rising opioid addiction is kickbacks to doctors for prescribing them. According to a study13 published in August 2017, between August 2013 and December 2015, more than 375,000 non-research opioid-related payments were made to more than 68,000 physicians, totaling more than $46 million. This means 1 in 12 U.S. physicians is collecting kickbacks from drug companies producing prescription opioids.

 

The top 1 percent of physicians received nearly 83 percent of the payments, and fentanyl prescriptions was associated with the highest payments. Many of the states struggling with the highest rates of overdose deaths, such as Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, were also those showing the most opioid-related payments to physicians. In other words, there’s a direct link between doctors’ kickbacks and patient addiction rates and deaths.

 

While back pain has been cited as one of the most common reasons for opioid use, a significant number of people get their first opioid prescription from their dentist.14 This is particularly true for teenagers and young adults.15 Half of all opioids are also prescribed to people with mental health problems such as anxiety.16

 

What these statistics are telling us is that doctors really need to take greater responsibility for their prescribing habits, and be far more prudent when it comes to handing out prescriptions for opioids. In many cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever may be just as effective, and far safer.

 

Opioids, Not Cannabis, Are a Priority, Federal Prosecutor Says

While many U.S. states have legalized marijuana either for medicinal and/or recreational use, on January 4, the White House administration rescinded the federal government’s policy to limit enforcement against marijuana sale in states where it is legal under state law.

 

This creates a convoluted and complex situation for vendors, as they may still face federal prosecution. U.S. federal prosecutor for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, recently clarified his stance on marijuana prosecutions in the state, saying “The No. 1 enforcement priority for my office is the opioid crisis … 2,100 people in Massachusetts were killed by opioid overdoses last year, not marijuana overdoses.” As noted by Reuters:17

 

“The new policy gave U.S. attorney’s offices discretion in how they enforced the law. Lelling, a Trump nominee who took office in December, said on Jan. 8 he would not promise to refrain from prosecuting state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

 

Those remarks worried advocates for Massachusetts’ nascent marijuana industry. Lelling said on Wednesday people ‘have lost sight a little bit of the prior statements of the office.’ He said the 14 prosecutors he oversees devoted to drug cases were focused on fentanyl and heroin traffickers. ‘That is where my resources are going right now,’ Lelling said. He also said he was open to pursuing cases over corporations’ roles in the opioid epidemic.”

 

Indeed, it is virtually impossible to die from an overdose of marijuana, and the idea that legal vendors of medical marijuana (meaning those operating in states where the sale of marijuana has been legalized) can still be prosecuted under federal law seems like an incredible overreach of power. Medical marijuana, if anything, may actually be part of the answer to the opioid crisis, as it can effectively treat many different kinds of pain, but without the lethal side effects associated with opioids.

 

Feds Cracking Down on Supplements Claiming to Treat Opioid Addiction

Federal regulators are also cracking down on “illegal and unapproved” products claiming to treat or cure opioid addiction and withdrawal, The Washington Post reports.18 So far, about a dozen products, mostly dietary supplements, along with two homeopathic remedies, have been targeted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

 

Eleven companies19 have received warning letters stating that claiming to ease or cure a disease (in this case drug addiction) makes the product subject to FDA authority, and failing to obtain FDA approval means they’re marketing an unapproved drug.

 

While FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called for increased availability and use of medication designed to treat drug addiction,20 he warns that “phony remedies could divert people from getting the right treatment.” In a statement, the FTC echoed Gottlieb’s sentiments, saying “Health fraud scams like these can pose serious health risks. These products have not been demonstrated to be safe or effective and may keep some patients from seeking appropriate, FDA-approved therapies.”

 

Opioids Have Never Been Proven Safe or Effective Beyond Six Weeks of Treatment

It’s rather ironic, but not unexpected, that the opioid crisis has led to the proliferation of costly drugs to treat opioid addiction. NPR recently reported how Alkermes, a company that makes the anti-addiction medication Vivitrol — a monthly injection that costs about $1,000 per shot — is trying to weasel its drug into state laws, making it the sole treatment recommended for opioid addiction.21

 

What really needs to happen is for the drug industry to be held responsible for creating this situation in the first place, rather than allowing it to profit handsomely a second time. As discussed in several previous articles, the opioid addiction epidemic was no fluke.

 

Evidence suggests opioid makers such as Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, knew exactly what they were doing when they claimed opioids — which are chemically very similar to heroin — have an exceptionally low addiction rate when taken by people with pain. In fact, the massive increase in opioid sales has been traced back to an orchestrated marketing plan aimed at misinforming doctors about the drug’s addictive potential.

 

The drugs’ general effectiveness against pain has also been vastly exaggerated. In April 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a paper in which it noted that:22

 

“Most placebo-controlled, randomized trials of opioids have lasted six weeks or less, and we are aware of no study that has compared opioid therapy with other treatments in terms of long-term (more than 1 year) outcomes related to pain, function, or quality of life.

 

The few randomized trials to evaluate opioid efficacy for longer than six weeks had consistently poor results. In fact, several studies have showed that use of opioids for chronic pain may actually worsen pain and functioning, possibly by potentiating pain perception …”

 

Addicted? Seek Help!

Some marketing materials for opioids still claim the drug will not cause addiction “except in very rare cases,” describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a “benign state” and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn’t true. Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

 

It’s important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you’re likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

 

Your workplace Employee Assistance Program

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration23 (SAMHSA) can be contacted 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP

Treating Your Pain Without Drugs

With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. The good news is there are many natural alternatives to treating pain. Following is information about nondrug remedies, dietary changes and bodywork interventions that can help you safely manage your pain.

 

Medical cannabis

 

Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic and is now legal in 28 states. You can learn more about the laws in your state on medicalmarijuana.procon.org.24

 

Kratom

 

Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is a plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.25 In August 2016, the DEA issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.26

 

Kratom is safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should be used with great care. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next. The other issue to address is that there are a number of different strains available with different effects.

 

Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.

 

Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

 

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses (LDN, available only by prescription), it triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.

 

Curcumin

 

A primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown in more than 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is hard to absorb, so best results are achieved with preparations designed to improve absorption. It is very safe and you can take two to three every hour if you need to.

 

Astaxanthin

 

One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. Higher doses are typically required for pain relief, and you may need 8 milligrams or more per day to achieve results.

 

Boswellia

 

Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as it worked well for many of my former rheumatoid arthritis patients.

 

Bromelain

 

This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider eating some of the pulpy core when you consume the fruit.

 

Cayenne cream

 

Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.

 

Cetyl myristoleate (CMO)

 

This oil, found in dairy butter and fish, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation of CMO to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Evening primrose, black currant and borage oils

 

These oils contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

 

Ginger

 

This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea, or incorporated into fresh vegetable juice.

 

Dietary Changes to Fight Inflammation and Manage Your Pain

Unfortunately, physicians often fall short when attempting to effectively treat chronic pain, resorting to the only treatment they know: prescription drugs. While these drugs may bring some temporary relief, they will do nothing to resolve the underlying causes of your pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, making the following changes to your diet may bring you some relief.

 

Consume more animal-based omega-3 fats. Similar to the effects of anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils work to directly or indirectly modulate a number of cellular activities associated with inflammation. While drugs have a powerful ability to inhibit your body’s pain signals, omega-3s cause a gentle shift in cell signaling to bring about a lessened reactivity to pain.

 

Eating healthy seafood like anchovies or sardines, which are low in environmental toxins, or taking a high-quality supplement such as krill oil are your best options for obtaining omega-3s. DHA and EPA, the omega-3 oils contained in krill oil, have been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for pain relief.

 

Radically reduce your intake of processed foods. Processed foods not only contain chemical additives and excessive amounts of sugar, but also are loaded with damaging omega-6 fats. By eating these foods, especially fried foods, you upset your body’s ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty-acids, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in most pain.

 

Eliminate or radically reduce your consumption of grains and sugars. Avoiding grains and sugars, especially fructose, will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production, which contributes to pain.

 

While healthy individuals are advised to keep their daily fructose consumption below 25 grams from all sources, you’ll want to limit your intake to 15 grams per day until your pain is reduced. Eating sugar increases your uric acid levels, which leads to chronic, low-level inflammation.

 

Optimize your production of vitamin D. As much as possible, regulate your vitamin D levels by regularly exposing large amounts of your skin to sunshine. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement, along with vitamin K2 and magnesium, is highly advisable. Get your blood level tested to be sure you’re within the therapeutic range of 60 to 80 ng/mL year-round.

 

Bodywork Methods That Reduce Pain

The following bodywork methods have also demonstrated effectiveness for pain relief and pain management.

 

  • Acupuncture: According to The New York Times,27 an estimated 3 million American adults receive acupuncture annually, most often for the treatment of chronic pain. A study28 published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing back and neck pain, chronic headache, osteoarthritis and shoulder pain — more so than standard pain treatment.

 

  • Chiropractic adjustments: While previously used most often to treat back pain, chiropractic treatment addresses many other problems — including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and whiplash. According to a study29 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain-free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication.

 

  • Massage therapy: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. A systematic review and meta-analysis30 published in the journal Pain Medicine, included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including bone and muscle, fibromyalgia, headache and spinal-cord pain.

 

The study revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.

 

  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): EFT continues to be one of the easiest and most effective ways to deal with acute and chronic pain. The technique is simple and can be applied in mere minutes. A study31 published in Energy Psychology examined the levels of pain in a group of 50 people attending a three-day EFT workshop, and found their pain dropped by 43 percent during the workshop.

 

Six weeks later, their pain levels were reported to be 42 percent lower than before the workshop. As a result of applying EFT, participants felt they had an improved sense of control and ability to cope with their chronic pain. In the video below, EFT expert Julie Schiffman, teaches you how to use EFT to address chronic pain.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Ibuprofen Linked with Male Infertility

maleinfertility

 

Ibuprofen Linked with Male Infertility

 

The widely-used over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen may pose a threat to male fertility, suggests a small new study.

 

Researchers found that young men who took ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes developed a hormonal condition linked to reduced fertility, CNN reported.

 

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

The study included 31 men, ages 18-35. Fourteen of them took a daily dosage of ibuprofen that many professional and amateur athletes take: 600 milligrams twice a day. This 1200-mg-per-day dose is the maximum limit listed on the labels of generic ibuprofen products, CNN reported.

 

The other 17 men in the study took a placebo.

 

Within 14 days, the men taking the ibuprofen developed the hormonal condition linked with lower fertility. If it does occur in men, this condition typically begins in middle age.

 

While “it is sure” that the hormonal effects in the study participants who used ibuprofen for only a short time are reversible, it’s unknown whether this is true after long-term ibuprofen use, study co-author Bernard Jegou, director of the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health in France, told CNN.

 

Even though this was a small study and further research is needed, the findings are important because ibuprofen is one of the most widely-used medications, Erma Drobnis, an associate professional practice professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri, Columbia, told CNN.

 

She was not involved in the study.

 

Jegou agreed that more study is needed to answer a number of questions, including how low doses of ibuprofen affect male hormones and whether long-term effects are reversible, CNN reported.

 

Advil and Motrin are two brand names for ibuprofen.

 

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medications and supplements. The association “supports and encourages continued research and promotes ongoing consumer education to help ensure safe use of OTC medicines,” spokesman Mike Tringale told CNN.

“The safety and efficacy of active ingredients in these products has been well documented and supported by decades of scientific study and real-world use,” he added.

 

Please call us with your concerns about your personal healtcare.

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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Opioid’s Surpass Cigarette Smoking

opiod

 

Opioid Addiction Now Surpasses Smoking

 

It’s time to face the facts. America has a very serious drug addiction problem, and it stems from overprescription of painkillers. According to a recent report by the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes.1

 

Substance abuse in general has also eclipsed cancer in terms of prevalence. Addiction to opioids and heroin is costing the U.S. more than $193 billion each year. Alcohol abuse is costing another $249 billion. In total, the cost of substance abuse far exceeds the cost of diabetes, which is also at a record high.

 

Opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine are also killing more Americans than car crashes.2 In 2014, more than 49,700 Americans died from opioid or heroin overdoses while 32,675 died in car accidents. According to the surgeon general’s report, in 2015:

 

27 million Americans took opioids

More than 66 million (nearly 25 percent of the total adolescent and adult population) reported binge drinking at some point in the previous month

 

In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general’s report on the health effects of smoking helped reshape the general attitude toward tobacco use. Surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, hopes his call to action on drug addiction and substance abuse will have a similar impact. As noted in a recent NPR interview with Murthy:3

 

“We now know from solid data that substance abuse disorders don’t discriminate. They affect the rich and the poor, all socioeconomic groups and ethnic groups. They affect people in urban areas and rural ones. Far more people than we realize are affected …

 

For far too long people have thought about substance abuse disorders as a disease of choice, a character flaw or a moral failing. We underestimated how exposure to addictive substances can lead to full blown addiction.

 

Opioids are a good example. Now we understand that these disorders actually change the circuitry in your brain … That tells us that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, and we need to treat it with the same urgency and compassion that we do with any other illness.”

 

According to the report, every dollar invested in treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and lost productivity, and another $7 in reduced criminal justice costs. Murthy’s plan to address the addiction epidemic involves policy makers, regulators, scientists, families, schools and local communities.

 

This amounts to another American bailout, this time taxpayers will be footing the bill for a pharmaceutical induced epidemic – paying the same medical system that caused the problem for the antidote.

 

A Brief History on Heroin

 

Heroin was initially introduced by Bayer Co. in 1898. It was hailed as a “wonder drug,” commonly used to treat pain and cough. Addiction rates grew once it was discovered that its effects were amplified when injected. As reported by CNN in an article covering the history of opioids:4

 

“In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act imposed a tax on those making, importing or selling any derivative of opium or coca leaves. By the 1920s, doctors were aware of the highly addictive nature of opioids and tried to avoid treating patients with them.

 

Heroin became illegal in 1924 … By the mid- and late-1970s, when Percocet and Vicodin came on the market, doctors had long been taught to avoid prescribing highly addictive opioids to patients.

 

But an 11-line letter printed in the New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM] in January 1980 pushed back on the popular thought that using opioids to treat chronic pain was risky.

 

In it, Jane Porter and Dr. Hershel Jick mentioned their analysis of 11,882 patients who were treated with narcotics. They wrote that ‘the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.'”

 

Prescription opioids had been increasingly prescribed to patients with terminal illnesses, but prescription patterns took a radical turn in the mid-1990s, when opioids became the focus of a campaign aimed at increasing prescriptions to non-terminal patients with pain.

 

The Birth of OxyContin

 

Purdue Pharma started selling OxyContin in 1996. Two years later, the company produced a promotion video that was distributed to 15,000 doctor’s offices across the U.S. In the video, a doctor is featured saying:

 

“The rate of addiction among pain patients who are treated by doctors is less than 1 percent. They don’t wear out; they go on working; they do not have serious medical side effects. So, these drugs, which I repeat, are our best, strongest pain medications, should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.”

 

Doctors apparently took notice, because a year later, opioid prescriptions had skyrocketed by an astounding 11 million. As noted in the video above, for many years, medical students were taught that if a patient is in serious pain, opioid painkillers will not have an addictive effect.

 

Not only does this defy logic, but this notion has also been scientifically proven FALSE. These drugs are addictive whether you’re in pain or not, and the claim that less than 1 percent of pain patients develop an addiction to them was based on misinterpretation of Jick’s limited data.

 

As one doctor admits, the campaign was aimed at destigmatizing the use of opioids, and in so doing, they often “left evidence behind.” Pain has such an adverse impact on quality of life, doctors owed it to their patients to be more aggressive in the treatment of pain, the rationale went. As a result of this biased “education campaign,” prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers rose by 600 percent in one decade, laying the groundwork for today’s drug addiction epidemic.

 

Many Drug Addicts Got Their Start After a Minor Injury

 

As described in the BBC News video at the top of this article, many of today’s addicts became hooked after receiving a prescription for an opioid following a relatively minor injury. Their injury healed, but the subsequent addiction is now ruining their lives, and the lives of their families.

 

Many, including young people, have also died as a result. As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”5 According to Frieden, studies show that addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy die from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription!

 

In addition to that, most studies investigating long-term use of opioids have lasted a mere six weeks or less, and those that lasted longer have, by and large, found “consistently poor results.” Several of them found that opioid use worsened pain over time and led to decreased functioning — an effect thought to be related to increased pain perception.

 

How Revolving Door Policy Allowed Drug Addiction to Spiral Out of Control

 

I’ve written about the dangers of the revolving door policy that allows regulators to be hired by industry and vice versa on numerous occasions. In this case, former Drug ­Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials hired by the drug industry fought for lenience and a “soft approach” to the burgeoning drug addiction problem.

 

They succeeded, thereby allowing the problem to grow more or less unrestrained, despite official promises to the contrary. As revealed in a Washington Post exposé:6

 

“A decade ago, the [DEA] launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic … The DEA began to target wholesale companies that distributed hundreds of millions of highly addictive pills to the corrupt pharmacies and pill mills that illegally sold the drugs for street use.

 

Leading the campaign was the agency’s Office of Diversion Control, whose investigators around the country began filing civil cases against the distributors, issuing orders to immediately suspend the flow of drugs and generating large fines.

 

But the industry fought back. Former DEA and Justice Department officials hired by drug companies began pressing for a softer approach. In early 2012, the deputy attorney general summoned the DEA’s diversion chief to an unusual meeting over a case against two major drug companies. ‘That meeting was to chastise me for going after industry, and that’s all that meeting was about,’ recalled Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the diversion office …

 

[O]fficials at DEA headquarters began delaying and blocking enforcement actions, and the number of cases plummeted … The judge who reviews the DEA diversion office’s civil caseload noted the plunge. ‘There can be little doubt that the level of administrative Diversion enforcement remains stunningly low for a national program,’ Chief Administrative Law Judge John J. Mulrooney II wrote in a June 2014 quarterly report …”

 

Even DEA Officials Suspected Foul Play

 

In 2013, DEA lawyers also began insisting on increasingly higher standards of proof before moving cases forward. This included proof of intent — a factor that is very difficult to prove and typically only required in criminal cases. In 2011, 131 cases were filed against distributors, manufacturers, pharmacies and doctors involved in the illegal distribution of opioids. In 2014, that number dropped to 40.

 

In that same time frame, the number of “immediate suspension orders” dropped from 65 to nine. The suspension order allows the agency to freeze shipments of narcotics, effective immediately. Many DEA officials began suspecting Clifford Lee Reeves II, the lawyer in charge of approving their cases, of secretly working for the drug industry.

 

“We all had a feeling that someone put him there to purposely stonewall these cases,” Frank Younker, a former DEA supervisor in the Cincinnati field office told The Washington Post. Younker retired two years ago after three decades with the DEA. Kathy Chaney, a DEA group supervisor in Columbus, Ohio said:

 

“We got so frustrated, I finally told my group, ‘We’re not going to send any cases up to headquarters.’ In 25 years, I had never seen anything like it. It was one of the reasons I left. Morale was terrible. I couldn’t get anything done. It was almost like being invisible … We were all very dedicated, and we were all deeply disappointed that the program was being manipulated this way.”

 

Chaney’s own mother died from an accidental Percocet overdose in 1979. She became addicted after receiving the drug following a car accident. Her mother’s death was one of the reasons Chaney joined the DEA in the first place.

 

As these comments reveal, there are many good, solid workers out there, fighting to protect public health, yet corporations have been allowed to infiltrate key positions and manipulate from the top down, preventing any real progress that might harm the industry’s bottom line. This is exactly why it’s so important to combat this transfer of officials between government agencies and the industries they’re supposed to investigate and police.

 

19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

 

In October, comedian John Oliver took aim at the burgeoning drug epidemic,7 noting the roots of the problem: narcotic pain killers, and more importantly, drug companies that falsely claimed they were non-addictive and safe to use for virtually all kinds of pain. Well, the jig is now up, and such claims can no longer be made. It’s extremely important to be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs, and to seriously weigh your need for them.

 

There are many other ways to address pain. Below are 19 suggestions. Clearly, there are times when pain is so severe that a narcotic pain reliever may be warranted. But even in those instances, the options that follow may allow you to at least reduce the amount you take, or the frequency at which you need to take them. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these options first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.

 

Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet

 

Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.

Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat

 

My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, by manipulating prostaglandins.)

Optimize your production of vitamin D  As we have said before, always consult your healthcare provider or call us and we will help you, because vitamin D must be taken with other vitamins, and never by inself.

 

Optimize your vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.

Medical cannabis

 

Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (up to 20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes and flavonoids.

 

Varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel “stoned” — and high in medicinal CBD. Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states. You can learn more about the laws in your state on medicalmarijuana.procon.org.8

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

 

EFT is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, and negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain.

 

By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.

 

Among volunteers who had never meditated before, those who attended four 20-minute classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention (a form of mindfulness meditation), experienced significant pain relief — a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.9

 

 

K-Laser, Class 4 Laser Therapy

 

If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers.

 

K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation and enhance tissue healing — both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments or even bones. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip.

Chiropractic

 

Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain such as low back pain.

 

Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.

Acupuncture

 

Research has discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headaches.

Physical therapy

 

Physical therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.

Massage

 

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.10

 

The review revealed that massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.

Astaxanthin

 

Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 milligrams (mg) or more per day to achieve this benefit.

Ginger

 

This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.

Curcumin

 

In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 milligrams (mg) of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.11

Boswellia

 

Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Bromelain

 

This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)

 

This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mildly annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils

 

These contain the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

Cayenne Cream

 

Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.

Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, exercise, meditation, hot and cold packs and mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.

Grounding

 

Walking barefoot on the earth may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.

 

I would like to add that if you have taken opioids for a length of time, or your parents have, then you may have chemical bending DNA, and many problems have been passed down in your family.

 

Please share with family and loved ones, and please call us to help you if you suffer from this situation or any other healthcare need.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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P Carrothers

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