Dangerous Epidemic: Painkiller Addiction – Are You at Risk?

People in Pain

It’s estimated that about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Many of them are taking prescription medications to manage the pain, and many of those painkillers are opioids. That means they work a lot like opium: highly addictive, and including the same side effects. Think about that for a minute. These drugs are prescribed like doctors giving out candy, and are as addictive as opium…

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are now 91 people dying per day of opiate overdoses in the US from these drugs. They’re not junkies on the streets. They’re people like you and me, who are in pain. They’re routinely given these drugs for things like arthritis, low back pain and migraines.

Acupuncture for Pain






Here’s a list of opioid drugs:

  • codeine (only available in generic form)
  • fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora)
  • hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)
  • hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR)
  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
  • oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
  • oxycodone and naloxone (Targiniq ER)


Some of these are pretty commonly prescribed, and it’s likely that you, or someone you know has a prescription for one of them. Besides being highly addictive, they have other problems. After a while, the body can develop a tolerance, and they’re less effective for relieving the pain, so people end up taking stronger drugs, and more of them. This is where people can get into big-time trouble, by just taking an extra pill, or two… and end up overdosed or dead.

It’s become such a big problem, that state and local governments have been stockpiling the drugs to treat opioid addiction. Oh, yes, there’s a drug to treat the problems created by the drugs. In fact, there are several.

The Multi-Billion Dollar New Opium War

In the late 1800’s there were wars fought over the opium trade. There was so much profit from the trade, that Britain went to war with China over it, not once, but two separate times. We may be about to enter into a different kind of opium war, although the motivation is exactly the same – money. And pharmaceutical companies are the ones profiting in a major way.

Not only are opioid drugs addictive, and have huge potential for overdose, they have other side effects, like constipation, nausea and decreased testosterone production. Guess what, there are drugs to treat overdose, constipation, and all of these side effects of the drugs… This is called a “drug cascade”, where multiple drugs are prescribed to treat the side effects of the other drugs.

It’s estimated that the opioid prescription market alone is worth about $8.6 billion in sales. The market for substance abuse treatment is projected to grow to $12.4 billion by 2024. It’s estimated that the other drugs in the cascade to treat the nausea, constipation, etc., are worth an extra $3 billion, and projected to grow to about $6 billion in the next 5 years. As the demand for these drugs grows with more people on opioids and having more side effects, the drug companies have taken advantage of the situation and raised their prices by 100’s, and in some cases 1,000’s of percent. All the while, they’ve been encouraging doctors to prescribe these drugs and promoting them as not very addictive at all. As you can see, there is a huge amount of money to be made by keeping people addicted.

Now, if you’re a drug company, that’s pretty darned good for business. If you’re a person in pain, that’s not so good for you. In fact, these issues are getting so out of control, that  federal government agencies are getting involved.

New Federal Recommendations

Things have gotten so bad that the CDC itself refers to the painkiller addiction problem as an epidemic. In addition to the CDC, the FDA & Joint Commission that accredits hospitals recently recommended that all doctors & hospitals be informed about, and recommend, non-drug options like acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and cognitive behavior therapy. Because they work!

Acupuncture and Pain

Of the non-drug treatments, acupuncture has certainly been around the longest. Used consistently for over 2,000 years throughout China and Asia, there are also modern scientific studies that show the effectiveness of acupuncture.

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website lists scientific studies showing acupuncture is effective for low back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis/ knee pain, and for headaches.

For many years, the World Health Organization has listed a number of conditions for which acupuncture is effective. They currently list 28  “diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment”, and another 63 where acupuncture has been shown to have a therapeutic effect. Many of those listed are pain conditions.

Besides its long history of constant use, many scientific studies show the effectiveness of acupuncture, and such esteemed organizations as the ones mentioned above recommend acupuncture as an alternative to drugs for treating pain.

Acupuncture works! In my 17 years of practice, I’ve helped many people reduce and/ or eliminate pain medications, because we reduced or eliminated the pain. No pain = no reason for pain meds. I’ve even seen a number of patients that had failed low back surgeries, meaning they had surgery, and still had the pain. In the majority of those cases, we eliminated, or significantly reduced the pain with acupuncture.

If you or someone you know is in pain, please, please get acupuncture. I recommend you try acupuncture and any of the non-drug therapies first. They don’t have the risk of drugs, and they often work, so you don’t need painkillers. As you see in this article, painkilling drugs are dangerous. Almost 100 people a day are dying from them. Drug companies are never going to cure your pain. There’s no money in it for them. It’s much better for their business to have you addicted to painkillers and all the other drugs that go with them.

Stop suffering! If you have questions, we’ll be happy to answer them. Call (619) 917-6288 or email today to see how we can help you feel better now.

Please share this with friends or family who are in pain, so they can get help. And feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts about this post.

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