Our current opioid epidemic began with a few doctors and marketers promoting prescription painkillers like OxyContin. Over time, it became commonplace and we became a country addicted.
With the opioid epidemic still in full swing, it?s common for people to become addicted to prescription painkillers. It starts with an agonizing pain that won?t subside on its own. So, you take opioids.
It won?t take long before your body builds up a tolerance and you?ll need higher doses to do the same job. With higher doses, there?s a better chance that you?ll become an addict.
And once you?re addicted, you?ll find that the drugs become less and less effective. One day, you wake up and realize that you don?t want this life. So, you go to rehab.
But through all this, the pain remains. It?s tempting to return to a life of painkiller addiction, but that?s not the answer.
Here are a few ways to live without painkillers as a former addict.
Quite a contrast to medicating, meditating can help relieve your pain naturally.
A study from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that meditation can reduce pain intensity by as much as 27 percent. You might think this has to do with the brain chemicals released during meditation, but this study indicates that it may have more to do with the emotional and cognitive reactions to pain.
Researchers exposed 75 pain-free individuals to a thermal probe. Each participant was in one of four groups. One group received mindfulness meditation training, another received a placebo cream, and another group was given a fake meditation training. The fourth group was the control group who received no perceived or actual pain relief.
The results were somewhat unexpected. Some may have expected the meditation group to show the strongest levels of pain reduction, but researchers also found that the meditation group was using a different area of their brain. The areas of the brain they were using are responsible for attention and cognitive control.
As far as science knows today, meditation is the only pain reliever that works in this way.
Find a suitable alternative
Believe it or not, there are alternatives to opioids that genuinely relieve pain. They may or may not work quite as well, but it?s important to remember the high cost of opioid pain relief.
Some research has shown that medical marijuana may be a suitable alternative to opioid painkillers. It works better for some people than others, but if you live in a state where marijuana is legal, it?s definitely worth trying.
Other alternative pain relievers include injections, acupuncture and over-the-counter NSAIDs.
Treat the root cause
Of course, the best treatment for pain is to eliminate its cause. Things like surgery and physical therapy may help treat conditions that are causing you pain. And if you?re suffering from something systemic, like fibromyalgia, consider exploring natural cures.
Pain is a difficult sensation for all of us because when we?re in it, we want nothing more than to be out. It?s natural to grab the quickest and easiest solution, but that?s not always the best. Especially if you?re a recovering addict, experiment with alternative painkillers to find what works best for you.