The Effect of a Binge Mentality.

America has a serious problem on its hands, and with no clear solution in sight. The opioid epidemic has gained enormous attention, and with good reason; according to the CDC, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, many of which received their prescription from a licensed physician. Since 1999, the number of deaths from opioids has nearly quadrupled, and those numbers are still on the rise. What makes this class of drugs so addictive, and is it possible to trace the beginning signs of one of the most crippling cases of mass overdose in the US, so future epidemics similar in nature can be actively avoided? Although efforts have been made to gain back control over this powerful class of pharmaceuticals, physicians are becoming more and more hesitant when considering prescribing opioids to first-time users. In addition, with holistic alternatives gaining momentum within the medical community, some healthcare practitioners are encouraging patients to turn to natural alternatives before resorting to riskier pharmaceutical counterparts for pain relief.

Morphine: Painkillers’ Insidious Beginning.

During the 1900s, there was a dire need for painkillers in order for Civil War Veterans to find some relief from their injuries. The discovery of morphine was revolutionary; one of the first substances derived from the opium poppy, it was frequently described as a “wonder drug”. However, it wasn’t before long that the opiate revealed its incredibly addictive nature, and in 1905, the US Congress banned opium. This didn’t eliminate the need for an effective painkiller though, and the substance had already worked its way into many lives, manifesting itself as the first indicators of a serious epidemic. Addiction was a growing problem, but there were few alternatives for sufferers to turn to, and withdrawal symptoms only added to the complexity of the issue.

Small Pill. Huge Impact.

During the proceeding years, chemists synthesized several versions of the opium-derived pharmaceutical, which has directly coincided with the explosion of drug-related deaths and new addiction cases. Since 1999, the number of deaths resulting from opioid overdose has quadrupled, and those numbers are still on the rise. Today’s most common varieties that originate from the initial forms of opiate-derivatives are Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet – pharmaceuticals that are utilized for countless procedures and frivolously prescribed for even the most minute complaints of pain. Thankfully, efforts from the CDC and similar organizations are beginning to reflect the growing attention on the opioid crisis; current guidelines are available for physicians who rely on opioids to relieve chronic pain in their patients, but with new hopes that they will begin to consider the long-term risks that can erupt once the script is in the patient’s hand.

Look Beyond Pills. Turn To Nature.

Experiments using alternative medicine for relief from pain and addiction are on the rise; studies using Chinese Medicine for relief from the symptoms of heroin withdrawal have proven to be a successful method in aiding efforts aimed at eliminating opioid use. Several other natural painkillers are incredibly accessible, and don’t carry the same risks for side-effects, addiction, or danger for potential negative drug interactions:

  • Turmeric: Commonly used as a cooking spice, this eclectic herb can provide relief from general pain and other symptoms including an upset stomach and ulcers.
  • Willow bark: Treats inflammation, a frequent cause of pain, and is available as a dry herb that can be brewed into a tea.
  • Cloves: Also commonly used in cooking, cloves may help reduce pain from headaches and other forms of inflammation.

Just like any pharmaceutical or over-the-counter medication, it’s important to conduct thorough research before introducing a new substance to the body. Ask your doctor if aromatic substances could be right for you before utilizing any essential oils or plant-based materials in tandem with your current medication, or used a sole alternative. In general, natural alternatives are a growing force in the world of medicine that can offer a promising solution for those who wish to veer away from the dangerous risks inherently linked with opioid use.