According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose between 1999 and 2017. More importantly, approximately 68 percent of the 70,200 deaths that took place in 2017 involved an opioid. So, it seems quite clear that the United States is facing an opioid crisis that has been in the making for decades. The proof of this lies in the fact that 130 people die from an opioid overdose every single day.
Although the issue is well documented and many administrations tried to tackle it, nobody has found a way to overcome these devastating fatality rates. On the contrary, if one is to judge the progress by the trends in the market, it seems that the nation is going backward in terms of the drugs’ safety. Fortunately, there are some solutions that could be quite impactful if accepted by society. The easiest one is to start implementing alternative, non-opioid-based treatments for pain management. Pharmacists can assist providers by reviewing pain therapy guidelines and helping to create alternatives to opioids. That way, the likelihood of people falling victims to long-term addiction could be minimized. Pharmacists can also check to ensure that the patient’s current prescriptions will not have any negative effects when combined with pain medications.
So, what are some other alternatives to opioids, and how can people make them a part of their everyday lifestyle?
Exercise and Supplements
Before getting into the actual alternatives to opioids, which start with a proper diet and exercise, it is important to recognize that these are not one-for-one comparisons. In other words, although exercising is a great way to undermine one’s need for opioids, per se, this approach alone will obviously not be as effective as the actual medicine that helps someone manage their pain. Nevertheless, the key point of the discussion here is to figure out ways to treat physical problems without opening oneself to a risk of addiction. To this end, exercise and supplements can serve as a natural building block for a complete pain management regimen.
The reason why this alternative has been proven useful is that it improves someone’s physical function by increasing mobility, strengthening muscles, and protecting the joints. Given how pain is often a byproduct of damaged or dying tissue, having better blood flow because of frequent exercise can help slow down the pace at which someone’s tissue is dying. That way, their pain levels could become more manageable and allow them to exercise even more. After a while, the cycle could allow the patient to completely overcome a certain type of pain, especially if they also combine their efforts with the right supplements.
A final supplemental option is to use herbal remedies as part of your daily diet. Spices such as ginger and turmeric both contain anti-inflammatory properties and are more effective than drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil). Other options include essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and sage which can also be used as topical rubs to relax muscles.
According to an independent retail pharmacy, Assured RX, the next mention-worthy alternative is acupuncture. This Chinese approach to treatment was invented hundreds of years ago and revolves around inserting small needles into someone’s skin to help with their energy flow. The entire concept is founded on the idea of “chi” that represents the natural energy that the body possesses. And although it might be a bit more time consuming than taking a pill, it is certainly a lot safer and more exciting!
Guided Imagery and Music Therapy
Another mind-body-connection-based treatment method is guided imagery. This is a somewhat recent invention that focuses on relaxing the patient and helping them get rid of stress and anxiety. In certain situations, it has been documented to help with acute and chronic pain that is often treated with addictive opioids. The treatment is based on showing the patient a series of images and allowing them to establish a mind-body connection. That way, a peaceful mind could theoretically cause the rest of the body to be at peace as well.
Topical Based Therapies
Assured RX also offers topical and transdermal creams and gels to provide high concentrations of pain medications directly to the effected area. Their topical therapies are used to complement oral therapy options to prevent a patient from overdosing and possibly help titrate them down to an effective lower dose of the oral medications. Studies have shown that there are no major limitations on the type of drugs that can be incorporated into a topical cream or gel. The staff at Assured RX work alongside the providers to recommend various custom therapies and products that will be effective for each individual client.
On the list of treatment methods that aim to replace opioids, Assured RX recognizes biofeedback as the most overlooked. The reason why is that most people are not familiar with it. So, what exactly is biofeedback and how does it tie into the discussion? Biofeedback is a technique that measures numerous different functions in the patient’s body. Then, the specialists who handle the measuring come up with appropriate ways to control things that may seem out of the ordinary.
For example, if someone’s biofeedback showcases an increase in blood pressure, their physician will give them a series of ways in which any future problems tied to that feedback can be avoided. So, if the patient is shown to be in chronic pain, biofeedback could help pinpoint the exact area and causes. Then, they are given strategies that could teach them how to take charge of their body and mentally reduce the pain.
In the end, the easiest way to find a solid alternative to opioids would be to have a meeting with a specialist. They will be able to create a customized plan tailored for the person’s lifestyle and special circumstances. The result could then be an increase in their odds of eliminating the use of dangerous drugs.