Avoiding the Pitfalls of Painkiller Addiction: Natural Remedies & Preventative Tips
According to the Center for Disease Control, more people die each year from painkiller overdoses than all motor vehicle accidents combined. Painkiller addiction is a crippling and widespread endemic that fails to discriminate based on age, race, gender or class. Understanding why painkillers are easily abused in conjunction with natural pain-relieving remedies and preventative tips can help you avoid the pitfalls of addiction and resolve your pain issues so you can be on your way to leading a happy, pain-free life. Dr. Jamieson licensed New York City Chiropractor and Nutritionist talks about natural remedies and tips that can be lifesaving.
What are painkillers?
Painkillers refer to a group of drugs classified as “opiods.” Opiods (derived from opium) can be found in medications containing hydrocodone and oxycodone. We are familiar with these drugs by their brand names: OxyContin, Vicodin, Morphine, Percocet and Dilaudid, among others. While these drugs vary in dosage and strength, all produce a similar effect. Each drug’s chemical make-up includes the same molecule that attaches to the opiate receptors in the brain and relieves pain. The stronger opiods not only relieve pain, but also produce a euphoric feeling, even reducing stress or anxiety. This euphoria can be highly addictive, based on the positive and negative reinforcement of the drug.
Why is painkiller addiction on the rise?
The United States makes up approximately 4% of the world’s population, yet it consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. The number of painkiller prescriptions sold to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies skyrocketed in the last ten years, but despite government attempts to regulate access to these drugs, Big Pharma continues to spend billions on marketing campaigns, secure profit margins and keeping users hooked. To escape the dangerous road of painkiller addiction, take note of the safe, natural and over-the-counter remedies described below that are proven to reduce pain, as well a list of important preventative pain management tips.
Pain Reduction Remedies
- Increase your Vitamin C and Vitamin D intake – Researchers have found that taking 500-1000 milligrams of Vitamin C per day helps reduce the loss of cartilage associated with osteoarthritis. Taking 400 IUs of VitaminD (or Vitamin D supplements) similarly, can slow or reduce the risk of arthritis by nearly 75%.
- Pick up a tube of capsaicin cream – Doctors recommend using capsaicin cream to reduce inflammation. It can be found over-the-counter in most pharmacies or drug stores.
- Eat more grapes – The skin on grapes contains a natural compound called resveratrol, which acts to suppress certain genes and enzymes that inflame injured parts of the body. Eating one cup per day of either green or purple grapes will give your body the amount of resveratrol it needs to reduce pain. Don’t fancy grapes? Resveratrol can also be found in grape juice and wine, as well.
- Topical Remedies – Ask your doctor for a Pennsaid or Diclofenac Gel prescription. These non-steroid anti-inflammatories have helped many patients reduce pain in key areas, such as the knees, ankles, elbows, wrists and hands.
- Take supplements – The most effective supplements to help fight pain without the need for addictive painkillers are rose hips, highly concentrated ginger and fish oil. Find them in your local vitamin or general nutrition shop.
- Drink more tea – Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a few bags of green or black tea. Both are known to be rich in polyphenols, compounds that reduce inflammation. You may drink your tea hot or cold, but be sure to drink at least two cups per day.
- Therapeutic taping – When a particular joint needs realignment or support, consider wrapping tape around the joint to relieve pressure. Studies show that just three weeks of taping can reduce joint symptoms. An added bonus: most people who tape their joints notice continued relief even after they have stopped taping.
Note: Taping your joints properly is important for effective results. Your doctor or physical therapist can show you the best way to wrap the tape.
- Assistive device – Assistive devices can work wonders when it comes to pain relief. Depending upon the type and location of the pain, shoe inserts, braces, canes and splints may be an effective option for you. These devices redistribute your weight and ease the pain of overworked and sensitive parts of the body.
- Weight loss – Maintaining a healthy weight is not only important for your general health, but it is also connected to pain relief. Too much weight can increase the pressure on your knees and cause inflammation and soreness. Ifyou are overweight, talk to your doctor about weight loss goals and diet and exercise tips.
- Exercise – Like weight loss, exercise can help reduce pain while also producing added health benefits. Be sure to incorporate a mixed variation of both strengthening and aerobic exercises. Don’t be afraid to alternate the types of exercise you do. Consider swimming, walking, biking, practicing yoga, rock climbing, or whichever gives you the most fulfilling workout.
- Proper healing – After an injury, it is crucial that you give your body enough time to heal. Always consult your doctor before returning to your normal exercise routine, or participating in any type of sport or activity that might cause added strain to your injury.
- Understand your pain – A major pitfall of painkiller users is their dependence on opiods as a “quick fix” to instantly numb pain, without first understanding where the pain comes from, and the exact type of pain felt. Without a proper understanding of your pain, you lose the ability to properly and permanently alleviate it. After suffering an injury, see a doctor immediately and get advice on the best ways to heal naturally.