In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) stated: “The science of opioids for chronic pain is clear: For the vast majority of patients, the known, serious, and too-often-fatal risks far outweigh the unproven and transient benefits.… We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”
Despite this fact, opioids are still prescribed for pain treatment at an alarming rate. The United States, with 4.6% of the world’s population, consumes over 80% of the world’s opioids. Overdoses recently surpassed motor vehicle collisions as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the country. Every day 175 people die from opioid overdoses and over 1,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms across the country because of opioid-related abuse.
Moreover, billions of opioids reside in medicine cabinets across the country, waiting for a curious young person to experiment with them. After all, the opioids were approved by the government and prescribed by a health care professional, so they must be safe, right? WRONG. Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC says, “If you take just a few doses, you can become addicted for life, and if you take just a few too many pills, you can die.”
Aside from the serious health consequences of addiction, including death by overdose, those addicted (as well as their friends and families) often suffer financial ruin, destroyed relationships, sexual and physical abuse, and incarceration. Opioid addiction can overcome our most powerful instincts, including instincts for survival and parenting. Click here to read about Kristin, who became addicted at 13 years old when a doctor prescribed her opioids after shoulder surgery. This mother overdosed in her car with her baby in the back seat.
This grandmother overdosed with her grandchild, a toddler, in the back seat.
Most health care professionals are heroes and only a small minority would intentionally harm a patient. Doctors must rely on information presented to them by entities such as the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency, The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that establishes and enforces health care standards, and companies that sell and distribute pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Unfortunately, for nearly 20 years, health care professionals have been terribly misled about opioids, and have passed this misinformation on to patients with disastrous consequences.
This page seeks to educate patients and health care professionals about the dangers of and alternatives to opioid treatment.
Who can get addicted to opioids?
Opioid addiction can happen to anyone. It is not a character flaw. It is a disease. It can happen to anyone.
Listen to this personal story from Chris Christie, Chair of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and New Jersey Governor.
Click here to review the script and materials Secure/ Higher Ed uses to educate students about opioid abuse.
AARP Special Report: Faces of Addiction
People Magazine: Faces of an Epidemic
Pain Management (General)
FREE Chronic Pain video conferences for primary care providers and clinics starting 02.02.18! Click here for more information.
Pain Management (By Type)
Mind/Body Pain Connection
Dr. John Sarno Jr. (June 23, 1923 – June 22, 2017) was a pioneer in non-invasive non-pharmacological treatments for chronic back and other pain. Many in the medical profession dismiss his methods as outside the mainstream at best and quackery at worst, and some practitioners react quite angrily to his theories. However, many of his actual patients report significant improvement and even freedom from pain after receiving his treatment. Dr. Sarno’s own random patient samples showed a 76-88% cure rate and a peer reviewed study of patients suffering chronic back pain an average of 9 years before treatment showed 54% reported reduced average pain intensity scores post treatment. By contrast, the CDC describes the benefits of opioid treatment for chronic pain – which many “mainstream” practitioners prescribed – as “unproven and transient”.
Significantly, we find no evidence that any of Dr. Sarno’s thousands of patients died or suffered serious harm as a consequence of his treatment, whereas, according to the CDC, “1 of every 550 patients started on opioid therapy died of opioid-related causes a median of 2.6 years after the first opioid prescription; the proportion was as high as 1 in 32 among patients receiving doses of 200 MME or higher.”
Dr. Sarno estimated that roughly 20% of chronic back pain patients could be cured completely by simply reading his book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. The book can be obtained for about $7 or free at a local library. Even if the medical profession entirely discounts Dr. Sarno’s methods, what harm exists in having patients read his materials before treating them with a highly addictive medication that can reign unspeakable destruction on the patients, their families, their friends, and society at large? At a minimum, Dr. Sarno’s theories deserve further study and additional consideration.