COVID-19 may be the global health disaster du jour. But let’s not forget that there are still plenty of other crises on the back burner here at home. And they’re still killing Americans, whether we’re paying attention or not.
The opioid epidemic is one of these crises. And while greater awareness of the scope of the problem has caused most doctors to reconsider their cavalier prescribing practices, the fact remains that millions of Americans remain addicted to prescription painkillers.
And sadly, the results of a recent study show why that’s not likely to change anytime soon…
High risk, low reward
This study appeared earlier this year in the journal Pain. Researchers set out to determine whether higher doses of opioid drugs lead to more effective pain management.
They looked at the medical records of more than 50,000 Veteran Affairs (VA) patients who had received opioid prescriptions between 2008 and 2015. (Reasons ranged from arthritis, back pain, and neck pain to neuropathy and migraines.)
During this time period, more than 20,000 patients saw their daily opioid dosage increase by at least 20 percent. Researchers compared their pain management with the results of more than 32,000 patients whose dosages stayed the same.
And here’s what they found: Patients whose opioid dose increased suffered consistently higher pain scores, both before and after the bump, than the patients who maintained their dosage.
That’s right… their pain scores didn’t even go down significantly when their dosages of pain meds went up! (After six months on the higher dose, the average pain score only decreased by 0.1 of a single point on a Numerical Rating Scale of one to ten.)
Meanwhile, patients whose medication dose stayed the same saw their pain improve by 0.3 of a point—not even a meaningful benefit, but still triple the relief of the higher-dose group.
Either way, the takeaway is clear: Higher doses of opioids are worthless. Which would be bad enough on its own—without the fact that they’re incredibly dangerous, too.
A better way to battle pain
This isn’t the first time scientists have called opioids’ effectiveness into question. Back in 2016, I shared the results of another study that delivered disturbingly similar results.
After looking at data from more than 2,000 people with low-back pain—nearly half of whom were taking opioids—researchers asked how successful the drugs were at relieving their pain. Only 13 percent rated opioids as “very successful,” with the most common answer being, “Somewhat successful.” (Which was how 44 percent of those interviewed rated the medication.)
So… why would anyone take on potential side effects like chronic constipation, dizziness, increased sensitivity to pain, and increased risk of addiction for such little benefit? Especially when there are so many low-risk ways to address your pain effectively?
If you ask me… I say, no thank you. Which is why I’m always recommending natural pain relief options. (You can learn more about ways to relieve and eliminate any type of acute or chronic pain in my Pain-Free Protocol.)
And my personal favorite? Medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD).
I’ve devoted a great deal of space to the incredible powers of cannabis herein Reality Health Check, and in my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, in recent years. And I first tackled its promising role in pain relief last summer, in the July 2019 issue (“Is chronic pain holding you hostage?”).
Plus, in the upcoming July 2020 issue, I’ll be bringing the conversation full circle… and showing you how to purchase a safe and effective CBD supplement from a growing body of questionable competitors.
So if you haven’t yet, as always, consider subscribing today. Because whether you struggle with chronic pain or just the occasional sleepless night, this is life-changing information you simply can’t afford to miss.
“Higher opioid doses fail to lessen pain: Analysis based on more than 50,000 VA patients.” Science Daily, 02/05/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200205132241.htm)