The Opioid Crisis: How Did We End Up Here?

Bottom Line:
If you make it a habit to watch the news, you’ve probably wondered on more than one occasion “How did the opioid crisis start?” The answer might surprise you.

About 30 years ago, there was a fundamental shift in medicine regarding how pain was understood and treated. The number of people with chronic pain seemed to be rising, and it was thought that the options to address the pain weren’t adequate.

Why it Matters:
As doctors paid more attention to assessing pain, they also paid more attention to treating pain.

Enter opioids.

Opioid medications began to be prescribed more and more frequently for chronic low back or neck pain. Surprisingly, up until then, opioids were only prescribed for severe pain after surgery or advanced-stage cancer. But that all changed in the early 1990’s.

New opioid formulas were promoted as being less addictive, and physicians were encouraged to prescribe these drugs far more liberally than before, including for treating chronic pain.

Prescribing these drugs very quickly created and exposed a number of problems. Healthcare professionals noted how rapidly patients adapted to the drugs, meaning larger and larger doses had to be prescribed to sustain those promised pain suppressing effects as time went on.

This was the first indication these drugs were not very effective at addressing chronic pain. They provided short-term relief, but they seemed to become less useful for many people as time went on.

What’s more, the euphoric feelings often associated with these drugs put it’s users at a high risk for addiction.

Next Steps:
Now, 30 years later, we are witnessing an opioid crisis. If there is a silver lining to be found, healthcare professionals now realize the answers and treatment for chronic pain are rarely found in a bottle.

Many leading healthcare organizations are now recommending non-pharmacological approaches to treating chronic pain including chiropractic.

If you would like to explore a drug-free approach to pain relief, schedule an appointment with us today. As the leading natural pain doctor in Hallettsville, we have the tools and experience you’ve been looking for.

Science Source:
(1) Understanding the Epidemic. CDC. 2021.

by Christopher Freytag, D.C.

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