This is not a story of rock stars and starlets, although they are suffering from this epidemic in staggering numbers. This story is about everyday people who seek relief from pain in the doctor’s office, whether it is from a sports injury or injury on the job, or chronic pain like migraines or arthritis. 9.4 million Americans take opioids for long-term pain.
Opioids are pain relievers with similar chemical structures to heroin. The most common opiods are Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Meperidine (Demerol), Methadone (Dolophine), Morphine (Roxanol, and Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).
Because opiates are chemically similar to heroin, they produce the same effects: euphoria and high levels of addiction. When the injury is healed and the opiate prescription is stopped, the patient is left with an addiction that is difficult to kick. So difficult that it is preferable to get drugs on the street to feed the habit. And it is so easy to get pills on the black market. As the addiction grows worse, many people go to the more potent method of dissolving and injecting the pills, or go straight to heroin. 4 out of 5 heroin addicts say they came to the drug from prescription drug use. The use and sharing of needles creates a legion of problems: HIV infection is up, as is Hepatitis C linked to prescription painkiller injections. The National Institute of Health estimated that 2.1 Americans are hooked.
And this is having a deadly effect. An average of 46 Americans die every day from prescription-opioid overdose. Opiate overdose beats out car accidents for one of the leading causes of death for middle aged Americans in the country.
So please, if you or a loved one goes to the doctor and receives a prescription of oxycodone or another opiate, please be on guard. If taken in a low does for a short amount of time, it can be managed. However, if the patient begins taking extra doses and runs out of the medication before time, be concerned and take immediate action to stop or ramp down the medication. Talk to your doctor.
Also be aware of the young people in your home. The first place a teenager looks for drugs is in his parent’s medicine cabinet.
Want to Feel Better?
Get some sleep! Research shows that Americans are sleep starved! Here are four key ways you can power up your sleep.
- Turn off all the lights, the computer, the phone, the LEDs for whatever you small electronic you have. Put all your small electronics on one power strip and turn it off before bed. You will sleep better in darkness, and if you wake up, you will more easily fall back asleep.
- Set your schedule and try to head to bed by 10pm. The most restful amount of sleep, the deep REM sleep, occurs between 10pm and 2am. When you wake, you will feel more energetic and ready to face the day’s challenges. Your brain will be able to fire its neurons more easily resulting in easier decision making capabilities when you get the sleep you need.
- Exercise!! Early and often! When you exercise your muscles move, causing your lymphatic system to clear out all the excess waste in and around your tissues. When your body’s systems are flowing and clear, you are able to use your incoming ingredients to regenerate new tissue, and feed your blood and brain and heart more easily, supplying your body with all the essentials it needs to operate optimally. When you exercise, your body is working more so you sleep better!
- Watch your diet! Are you drinking coffee or diet soda all day? Caffeine will definitely impact your ability to sleep. Are you drinking alcohol into the night? Excess alcoholic beverages will cause you to wake up every few hours. Do you eat late in the evening? Your body will be hard at work digesting that late meal as you are trying to go to sleep. Fatty foods will also cause acid reflux which could disturb your sleep
If you think you are getting enough sleep, try keeping a sleeping log. Count the hours you are sleeping each night and write it down. By the end of the week, you should have 48 hours accounted for. No? (I didn’t.) Continue to keep the log, and you may be shocked at how many hours you are missing. (I was.) It may inspire you to get some more shut eye just so you can feel more positive and be more effective.
And watch your kids for sleep deprivation too! Kids who get at least eight hours of sleep a night do much better at school, are more eager to exercise, and eat a healthier diet.