The use and abuse of prescription opioids is currently the most significant health crises today. Americans account for only 5% of the world’s population, but they take approximately 80% of the world’s prescription opioids. CNBC notes that according to Irina Koffler, senior analyst, specialty pharma, Mizuho Securities USA, that there was about 300 million pain prescriptions written in 2015.
Overdoses from prescription opioids are the major driver of the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Overall, prescription opioids are now killing more people each year — 22,000 by last count in 2015 — than die from homicide.
The CDC reports that nearly 100 Americans are dying a day from opioid misue.
Opioids are drugs or chemicals that act on opioid receptors in the body to produce morphine-like effects. In the medical field they are primarily used for pain relief.
Opiates is an older term that refers to drugs that are derived from opium, including morphine itself. Other opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl are considered semi-synthetic or synthetic drugs. There are also opioid antagonist drugs like naloxone and endogenous peptides such as the endorphins.
According to Opiant.com, these substances inhibit the activation of the opioid receptor by blocking the actions of both exogenous and endogenous opioid-like peptides. They say that opioid antagonists can regulate the reward circuitry of the brain by reducing or inhibiting behaviors, like cravings.
Are there any drawbacks or side effects to using opioids? The journal Pain reports that about 80% of patients who use the drug experience at least one adverse event, which includes constipation (41%), nausea (32%) and
somnolence (29%) being most common. They also report that the burden of disease is often aggravated by opioid treatment of chronic pain patients.
Although constipation and nausea tend to be the two greatest concerns, other side effects can include:
- Drowsiness and reduced focus and mental alertness
- Respiratory depression - decreased drive to breathe and can lead to death if the patient overdoses on opioid medication
- Decreased libido and difficulty with orgasm
- The possibility of becoming addicted to the medication
Opioid painkillers are known to be associated with suppression of the immune system, as opioid receptors are involved with regulation of immunity. Studies indicate that different opioids or opioids administrations show various effects on the immune system: immunosuppressive, immunostimulatory, or dual effect.
If you use or know someone who uses opioids to control pain but wish to stop the use, the question now is: Is it possible to reverse and stop altogether the use of opioid medications and do so naturally?
How To Naturally Reverse Opioid Use
There are 6 natural remedies for opiate withdrawal and they include:
The use of opioids (as well as most Rx prescriptions) can cause nutritional deficiencies, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Magnesium is a transdermal mineral, meaning it can be absorbed through the skin making bath salts a great choice. You can also use a magnesium spray and in liquid form.
Calcium and potassium can be taken in supplement form as well, but should be taken with a D-3 vitamin for better bio-availability. As well as Magnesium should be taken with a B-1 vitamin for better bio-availability.
A person withdrawing from opiates should increase their vegetable and fruit intake along with other whole foods.
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Dehydration is a major concern in opiate withdrawal. Individuals experience diarrhea as a backlash to the chronic constipation experienced while addicted to opiates. Withdrawals from a drug can also cause increased sweating, which can be severely dehydrating.
An individual who is withdrawing from opiates must dramatically increase their water and electrolyte intake during the withdrawal and recovery process.
Electrolytes are the minerals most often depleted with use of most prescription drugs including pain killers.
Symptoms of opiate withdrawal include muscle pain and cramping, as well as trouble sleeping. Much of these issues are a product of high levels of inflammation — a natural outcome of opiate withdrawal. Natural anti-inflammatories treat bodily inflammation and the pain that results. Recommended remedies include fish oil, turmeric, green tea, astragalus root, and passionflower.
Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA)
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that is produced by the brain and acts as a neurotransmitter that helps to facilitate communication between nerve cells. It also suppresses nerve impulses related to stress and anxiety.
The brain produces sufficient amounts of GABA and supplementation may not be needed. But individuals that have taken opiates and other drugs for a long period of time, those who eat diets with poor nutrition and over-exposed to environmental toxins, can lower GABA levels below optimum amounts. Low levels are associated with a range of problems, including anxiety, depression, irritability and sleeplessness.
While GABA is not an analgesic, it can though lessen the intensity of pain by easing the stress and anxiety that can contribute to it.
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Activated charcoal is burnt plant material that is heated to high temperatures in an environment devoid of oxygen.Recommended For You During the process the material develops pores that can absorb different types of toxins. Historically, activated charcoal has been used to counteract drug overdose.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, it can help ease withdrawal symptoms associated with inflammation and can improve overall hydration. It can be taken either in capsule-form, or be absorbed through the skin.
Recent research indicates that CBD oil, a non-psychoactive oil derived from the cannabis plant, can serve as a remedy for opiate withdrawal, with no harm to the user.
“People think it’s a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic (opioids are narcotics), but we’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug, and I personally believe that it could help,” Dr. Oz said.