Opioids: Why Worry & What are the Natural Alternatives

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You may live in a beautiful suburb of a big city.  You may have a great job, a wonderful family, and a few fun hobbies.  It may seem like you have it all – and maybe you do.

But it doesn’t mean you are immune to addiction, particularly with opioids.

All it takes is a small surgery, a slight injury, or even dental work to be prescribed a pain medication which within days, your body becomes addicted to. 

It’s more common than you may think – thousands of opioid prescriptions are given out each year in Douglas County and in 2015, 37 percent of all drug poisoning deaths in the county were related to opioids.

What is an opioid and why are they prescribed?
An opioid is a compound that adheres to opioid receptors in the body.  It attaches to these receptors and blocks pain and are used as powerful painkillers.

Opioids are under such names as oxycodone, percocet, fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, and codeine.

These types of drugs are typically prescribed when recovering from surgery, dental work, chronic pain, or injury. 

How does an opioid become addicting?
When these drugs are taken, the body stops producing it’s own natural opioids and relies on the drugs.  When this happens, the body becomes tolerant to the drug very quickly (sometimes within just a few days) and more opioids must be used to keep pain in check.

Unfortunately, when an opioid prescription is finished and pain comes back, it is not known many times if the pain is still from the original cause (surgery, injury, etc.) or if it is a withdrawal pain.  This is how someone can easily develop an addiction.

What are withdrawn symptoms of opioid use?
Withdrawal symptoms of opioids can be:

            – pain (in the injured area or other area)

            – aches

            – irritability

            – nausea

            – headaches

            – sweating

            – depression

Due to these symptoms and possibly others, it can be difficult to stop using opioids.

So how does holistic medicine come into play with opioid use?
Holistic medicine has a natural way of looking at pain.  It understands that pain is a natural way of our body communicating and healing itself.  Rather than trying to eliminate it altogether, holistic medicine tries to calm the pain and make it manageable in order to heal naturally and healthfully.         

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Traditional western medicine tries to eliminate pain.  This perspective can provide unrealistic expectations in healing.  If we are always trying to live pain-free no matter what, we may be numbing our bodies while trying to heal ourselves.

Holistic medicine, on the other hand, takes a different approach to pain.  We try to manage it naturally so the body can heal and be aware of this healing without numbing.

Holistic medicine can help in two main areas:
            1. Provide options before taking any opioids to avoid addiction

            2. Treat addiction – particularly the withdrawal symptoms and emotional mindset

Alternative Options to Opioids
As mentioned, opioid addiction can happen as quickly as within a few days of starting a prescription.  Because of this, many clients choose to seek out alternative options before surgery, dental work, or seeing a western doctor in order to exhaust all possibilities first.

These alternatives may include, but are not limited to:

            – acupuncture for pain relief

            – natural anti-inflammatories such as CBD oil, curcumin, boswellia, magnesium, and gaba-pentin

            – cupping

            – massage

            – physical therapy

At the Mayo Clinic, there even has been much success teaching patients about mindfulness when dealing with pain!  If you do a Google search of "Mayo Clinic" and add "Mindfulness" you'll see what we mean.

How can holistic medicine help opioid addiction?
Once addicts are sober and are seeking help with the original pain and/or addiction withdrawal symptoms, Dr. Graves analyzes the client holistically. 

Typically, treatment consists of acupuncture twice a week for 2-3 weeks to get started with even as much as three treatments to get through the first week (as this can be the most difficult time).  From there, treatments are commonly reduced throughout the next few months, depending on how the client reacts.

In addition to acupuncture, neurotransmitter support can be provided to help the body restore it’s balance and calm nerves during this stressful time.

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Opioid addiction is something we should all be aware of and concerned about.  Even if we take opioids mindfully, it can lead to unintended addictions. 

If you are concerned about this happening or if it has happened and you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, or Colorado Springs, please contact us at (303) 688-6698 for a free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Graves or schedule online by clicking here.

There is nothing to be ashamed of – this can happen to anyone.  Let us help you take a different route or help you work through getting your life back.




Posted in Acupuncture, blog, Functional Medicine, Herbal Supplements, Natural Medicine, Natural Remedies, Pain, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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