“Opioid abuse sneaks into a person’s life on kitten’s paws. It does not discriminate. I was a senior manager at a huge aerospace company, making more than $130,000 a year. I was amazed how quickly getting pills became my obsession. Needing more and more, I was always terrified I would run out. Money was not the problem, finding the pills was the problem.”
- Every day 145 Americans die from opioid overdoses.
- In 2016, 42.249 Americans died from overdosing on opioids
- Since 1999, 200,000 Americans have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids
- About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
- In 2016, 15,469 deaths were attributed to overdosing on heroin
At the moment this trend is only getting worse.
What Set the Stage for Opioid Epidemic?
Big Pharma has been controlling and manipulating medicine in America since the beginning of the last century, pushing chemical medicine in order to maximize profits, yet the chemical dependency problem was never as big as it is today. The opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation is a fairly recent development.
Sharp rise in the use of opioids began in 1995 when US company Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, released OxyContin. Its active ingredient, oxycodone, is twice as powerful as morphine.
Even though no clinical trials had been conducted on long-term use of the OxyContin and its addictive effects, FDA, in its typical fashion, had approved the drug, stating that it was safer than other painkillers. Shortly after approving the drug, the head of the FDA examiner left FDA for a job at Purdue, which given the history of corruption at FDA, is not a bit surprising.
Purdue Pharma allocated funding to professional medical societies and advocacy groups who in turn promoted and encouraged the use of highly addictive OxyContin as very safe and with very few side effects. In 1995 Purdue Pharma began an aggressive campaign targeting “physicians and general practitioners, who were not pain specialists. Doctors were offered all-expenses-paid trips to pain-management seminars in places like Boca Raton. Such spending was worth the investment: internal Purdue records indicate that doctors who attended these seminars in 1996 wrote OxyContin prescriptions more than twice as often as those who didn’t. The company advertised in medical journals, sponsored Web sites about chronic pain, and distributed a dizzying variety of OxyContin swag: fishing hats, plush toys, luggage tags.”
This campaign was a huge success – opioid painkillers originally reserved only for patients with a terminal illness due to their extreme danger of dependency, were now routinely prescribed by doctors for arthritic pain and migraines. From 2006 to 2015 Purdue and other opioid manufacturers shelled out $880 million on lobbying and political contributions—eight times what the gun lobby spent during the same period and if you thought this was over and done with, you’d be mistaken. This is still going on today.
According to Forbes, the “Sacklers continue to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from the businesses in 2016– some $700 million last year, by Forbes’ calculations – from an estimated $3 billion in Purdue Pharma revenues plus at least $1.5 billion in sales from their foreign companies”.
Despite settling the suit against them for $600 million, Purdue Pharma spends $30 million a year to increase the sales of OxyContin and most of it is paid to doctors who write prescriptions.
Is Your Doctor Being Paid by the Pharma Industry?
On a side note, if you want to find out if your doctor received compensation from the pharmaceutical industry (lunches, trips, gifts, cash), go to Dollars For Docs type the name of your doctor and it will tell you if they were paid by pharmaceutical industry and how much.
Opioids Are Deadly
Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (i.e., Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin) and dangerous synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl and Carfentanil. Opioids target the brain to reduce pain and produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. They do provide relief for acute and chronic pain, but unfortunately, they can also be misused and abused.
Opioids are extremely addictive. After taking them for extended periods of time, your body develops tolerance for the drug. This results in the need for higher doses and later on, inability to stop the use and painful physical withdrawal symptoms. Opioids are deadly.
High doses can cause people to stop breathing and die. Since 1999 the number of deaths involving opioids has quadrupled nationally. Synthetic opioids are fast acting and infinitely more toxic than heroin. Heroin and other street drugs are often mixed with fentanyl to increase their effects, which can quickly become a lethal combination.
I, no joke, drive a minivan, have three small children and a nice house with a pool. Most people don’t know and would never assume that I spent any time living in a tent behind a supermarket using dirty needles and rainwater to inject heroin into my neck.
When I was a child I wanted to be a veterinarian, not a homeless addict. We are humans, we have jobs, children, hopes, and dreams. I grew up with both of my parents, in a nice house, in a good town. I never tried drugs or alcohol in high school. I was an honor student and was selected to study abroad in Brazil for a year after high school, and that is when my life changed.
How Acupuncture Treats Addictions
Substance dependency is a complex affliction. Substance interferes with the way brain cells send, receive, and process signals. Even though some drugs mimic the brain’s own chemicals, they don’t activate neurons in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter does, resulting in abnormal messages being sent through the network. Drugs can alter areas of the brain responsible for life-sustaining functions such as eating, socializing, sex, ability to think, plan, solve problems and make decisions.
Whereas in the past, addiction treatment programs have been using conventional medicine to treat addiction, complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) such as acupuncture, has been added to the treatment protocols and been successfully used in conjunction with conventional methods.
Many studies have used auricular acupuncture for treatment of addictions. Evidence suggests that acupuncture based treatment of addictions has been successful due to acupuncture activating brain’s own opioid system. Needling specific points on the body with specific frequencies of electrical stimulation triggers the release of beta-endorphins (internal morphine) into the system. Beta-endorphins compete with opioids for the same receptor, reducing cravings and need for drugs. This way, acupuncture sensitizes the brain to its own chemicals rather than to opioids. Acupuncture can correct reversible malfunctions of the body by direct activation of the brain pathways and thus contribute to the biochemical balance in the central nervous system by regulating the neurotransmitters that control health and disease.
Acupuncture for addictions is not only safe but also cost-effective treatment that can be used alone or combined with conventional treatment methods. Western medicine does not have all the answers. What we know for sure at this point is that acupuncture has a real effect on the brain.
Acupuncture does not just work for opioid addictions. It works for food addictions, nicotine addictions, alcohol addictions, sex addictions and others. By the way did you know that the most difficult addiction to tackle is smoking?
It’s important to understand that just like conventional methods, it will take more than one acupuncture treatment to experience a measurable result. At 406 Acupuncture, we strive to work together with other health care providers for all of our patients. In treating addictions, we use evidence based, cutting edge acupuncture treatments rooted in TCM, Auricular and Battle Field Acupuncture. We believe that healthcare treatments are most effective and healing when utilizing collaborative and integrative practices.