In the spring of 2008, I lost a dear friend BJ to suicide after a long battle with opiate addiction after a knee injury. 

 

In the summer of 2017, I lost my friend Chris to addiction and overdose.

These were my first friends on this planet and they are both dead.  They knew me longer than anyone outside of my family and they are gone from this world.  Just gone.

My sister, Jennifer is a heroin addict.  This addiction continues to hurt her children who are now mostly grown, but still struggle to this day because of the mother her addiction made her become.

My friend’s husband became addicted to opiates from pain due to his work.  When the doctors stopped prescribing them, he began stealing them and they almost lost everything when he was found out.  He went into treatment and is clean to this day.

These people had normal childhoods, great parents, careers, and promising futures.  Most of them started opiates because they were in pain.

Even though studies (such as the one sited in this article) show that opioids are not more effective for chronic pain than other drugs, doctors seem to be handing them out like candy.  Opioids are highly addictive.  The largest increase in opiate overdoses are among middle aged men (CDC).

A 2006 survey, evaluated the impact that chronic pain had on 303 chronic pain sufferers who sought care from their physician and were currently using an opioid to treat their pain.  More than half of respondents (51%) felt they had little or no control over their pain.  Six out of ten patients (60%) said they experience breakthrough pain one or more times daily, severely impacting their quality of life and overall well-being.”

“Almost two-thirds (59%) reported an impact on their overall enjoyment of life.

  • More than three quarters of patients (77%) reported feeling depressed.
  • 70% said they have trouble concentrating.
  • 74% said their energy level is impacted by their pain.
  • 86% reported an inability to sleep well.

“In 2011, at least 100 million adult Americans have common chronic pain conditions, a conservative estimate because it does not include acute pain or children.” 

  • Pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually (an amount equal to about $2,000.00 for everyone living in the U.S.). (20)
  • In 2008 the cost to federal and state governments of medical expenditures for pain was $99 billion. (20)
  • Recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data suggest substantial rates of pain from the various causes and that most people in chronic pain have multiple sites of pain. For U.S. adults reporting pain, causes include: severe headache or migraine (16.1%), low back pain (28.1%), neck pain (15.1%), knee pain (19.5%), shoulder pain (9.0%), finger pain (7.6%), and hip pain (7.1%). (21)

“Overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers (OPR) have increased and now exceed deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined.”
  • Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the US in 2008. This is more than 3 times the 4,000 people killed by these drugs in 1999.
  • In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year.
  • One in 20 people in the United States, ages 12 and older, used prescription painkillers nonmedically (without a prescription or just for the “high” they cause) in 2010.
  • Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
  • Sales of OPR quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Enough OPR were prescribed last year to medicate every American adult with a standard pain treatment dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone (Vicodin and others) taken every 4 hours for a month.
  • Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs.

Certain groups are more likely to abuse or overdose on prescription painkillers:
  • Many more men than women die of overdoses from prescription painkillers.
  • Middle-aged adults have the highest prescription painkiller overdose rates.
  • People in rural counties are about two times as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as people in big cities.
  • Whites and American Indian or Alaska Natives are more likely to overdose on prescription painkillers.
  • About 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Natives age 12 or older used prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons in the past year, compared to 1 in 20 whites and 1 in 30 blacks.” (article)

Mindfulness works better than Opiodes!
In March of 2016, a study comparing mindfulness and yoga (MBSR) showed that mindfulness and yoga were nearly twice as effective in treating chronic pain symptoms and related depression than the usual treatment.  Another study released that same month, showed that mindfulness meditation works on a different pathway than opioids.  So mindfulness meditation and yoga can help people with chronic AND improve their lives without the nasty side-effects of opiates.

This is my inspiration!  If I can help people to feel better in their bodies before they become addicted to opiates, then maybe I can help prevent another Chris or another BJ.  Maybe I can help one person learn to heal themselves using the power of their own mind and body rather than turning to drugs. Maybe I can make a difference. 

Do you know someone in chronic pain who wants to avoid the pitfalls of opioids?  I can help!  Click here to find out more!