The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Terence G. Brady
Brady Chiropractic 

Prescription painkillers

Dr. Brady the 'Spine Guy'


This is an article I wrote a few years ago, and recent events have brought the subject to the surface again. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had known about the problem for years and nothing seems to have been done about it. There are so many prescription drugs advertised to the general public on television these days, there seems to be a need for regulatory control by the Federal Drug Administration. Cigarettes and alcohol cannot be advertised on network television, but prescription drugs can be. You may have noticed that it doesn't take long after a new drug is advertised that some attorney firm will begin a class action suit for people that may have suffered from its side effects.

Keep in mind that the numbers and statistics mentioned below are almost 10 years old. You can try to imagine what those figures might be today. Staggering.

Drugs you get from a dark alley may be safer than drugs you get in your doctor's office, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, Lancet. Researchers from the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia found that prescription painkillers contribute to more illnesses and deaths worldwide than marijuana, cocaine and heroin. They found that the problem is particularly bad in the United States.

More than about 15 million people around the world are addicted to opium based painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. That is more than the approximately 13 million people who are addicted to marijuana and cocaine according to Nicholas Kardaras PhD, an addiction specialist at Stony Brook University in New York. He says that the findings are not surprising, as opioids are not only highly addictive, but are also very well marketed. He also says that these drugs are now much stronger, and the pharmaceutical companies advertise them heavily, which creates a consumer market for powerful pain pills.

Not only are prescription painkillers addictive, but they are also very deadly. Of the more than 78,000 people worldwide that died of drug overdoses in 2010, 55% were due to painkiller overdoses. And opiates are easy to overdose on, according to Kardaras. Your respiration slows down and then your breathing stops.

Opioid addiction is rampant in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than 12 million people use prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons in this country and overdoses from them kill more than 14,000 every year. The problem is getting worse. In 2004, about 100,000 people were admitted to emergency rooms for painkiller abuse and by 2009, the number had skyrocketed to about 475,000. That is almost a 5 times increase in only 5 years. There were no statistics available for the last few years, but the assumption can probably be made that the numbers have at least remained the same or more likely have increased over the last 4 years. Dr. Kardaras thinks that this is because of lack of professional education rather than the fact that we as a country were in more pain.

"Fixing the problem begins in the doctor's office," says Jorg Pahl, MD of Oklahoma City. "Prescribing physicians need to be extra careful about evaluating patients for the possibility of drug addiction." He also said that there needs to be more oversight around the prescriptions of these powerful drugs.

"In decades past, doctors prescribed opioids mainly for cancer patients," Dr. Pahl said. Now opioids are also commonly used for chronic non-cancer pain, especially for chronic lower back pain. The U.S. has become overmedicated."

As a chiropractor practicing here in Tehachapi, I sometimes come across this problem and I see just how difficult it is to break the grip that these drugs can have on a person. Also, as a chiropractor, I often see the changes that come over a person when we can reduce the pain and they can rely less and less on the medications and, in turn, make their life more comfortable.

If you are in chronic pain from a spinal condition, headaches or an old injury, give me a call and come in for a free consultation.

Brady Chiropractic is located at 28025 South St. Ste A, Tehachapi or call (661) 823-8888.


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