What are they? Why are they being misused? Who is being affected? Why should we care?
Many beneficial medications occur in nature, such as aspirin (from willow bark), penicillin (penicillium mould), essential oils and various herbs. Some pain relievers are from the opium poppy.
Opiates are natural substances that come from opium, including morphine (from which heroin is processed) and codeine. Opioids are products that work in the same way, but are synthetic, meaning manufactured chemically, such as methadone and fentanyl, or semi-synthetic (hybrid), which include oxycodone (e.g. OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin®). In today’s world, however, there is usually no distinction made between natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic, they are all simply called opioids.
Used to treat moderate to severe pain that does not respond well to other medications, opioids bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the body – they tell your brain you’re not in pain.
It can start out as a blessing for those patients who are recovering from surgery, have gotten seriously injured in sports, accidents, etc. or who are in severe acute pain due to other circumstances. When the pain is persistent and chronic, there is the risk of addiction. Opioids are adept at making your brain and body believe that the drug is necessary for your survival. When you come to tolerate the initial dosage you were prescribed, you will likely find you need even more medication to relieve your pain – one of the things that can lead to dependence.
They also affect your brain’s reward system, just like the opioid chemicals your body already contains, such as endorphins (“endorphin” is contracted from “endogenous – growing or originating from within –morphine”), which relieve pain and make your feel good. Adding external opioids has the effect of making people feel euphoric, i.e. “high,” so some take the medication just to feel that way. You can see how appealing this could be, and how easily it can be misused, that is, not utilized in the way it was originally intended, or abused, i.e. used excessively. https://www.facebook.com/dawncady.mindsetcoach/photos/a.398674654054717/474981989757316/?type=3&theater
A note here: the people who are looking to get high, not just manage pain, sometimes crush opioid pills in order to inhale or inject the powder so as to get an immediate and powerful effect. Unfortunately, some of them will shift to using heroin because it’s cheaper and can be obtained on the street, leading not only to addiction, but to the increased risk of overdose.
“Alarming” may be too conservative a word to describe the statistics: the United States has fewer than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply; Australia has seen a sharp increase in the use of prescription opioids, which are now the cause of more than two-thirds of drug deaths; according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the highest levels of prescription opioid abuse in Europe have been reported from Northern Ireland, though Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Germany also have substantial proportions of addicts. In terms of mortality rates, Ukraine, Iceland, Ireland and Luxembourg experience the highest levels in Europe; in Canada, British Columbia and Alberta, two of Canada’s most populous provinces, have declared a public health emergency. https://www.overdoseday.com/facts-stats/
Besides the toll it takes on the health of our family, friends and neighbours who might be affected, global opioid addiction drains healthcare resources, affects schools and workplaces, and basically targets the heart of our communities. Please consult a physician or other medical professional if you or your loved ones suspect you are in a dangerous place with your physical or mental health. If you are concerned about potential issues around chronic pain, The Neural Alignment Method® is a great place to start: https://www.alleviatepain.com.au/the-neural-alignment-method/