Skip to main content

Opioid Epidemic Week Part One: How Did We Get Here?

Even if you don't pay particular attention to the news, stories about the opioid crisis are everywhere. You just can't miss it.

Opium has been in use for centuries. According to Wikipedia, opium was in use during the Neolithic Age- (10,200 BC to around 4,500 BC). So, the question did this crisis emerge?

Fast forward to the modern century...about fifteen years ago, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) reported that pain was vastly under treated here in the United States. Pain was deemed the "Fifth Vital Sign" and JCAHO stressed that pain assessments be a part of every patient/physician visit.  It was suggested that opioids could safely and effectively be used liberally, without fear of addiction.

In the meantime, Purdue Pharmaceuticals launched Oxycontin®, an opioid product that offers continuous pain relief over 12 to 24 hours. As such, this product contained higher amounts of opioid than other immediate relief painkillers that were on the market at the time.

Very shortly after its introduction, drug users realized how easy it was to tamper with the time-release feature in Oxycontin® tablets.  It was very easy for them to access large, additive-free doses of this very potent drug, and inject or snort it...a bastion for chronic or recreational users.

This went on for many years...from the introduction of OxyContin® to the marketplace in 1996 until the present. Purdue continued to insist that the product had low abuse potential...but how well we know now that this is not the case!

Since it is a legal prescription product, it's not surprising that folks like to believe that is is perfectly safe to use.  Unlike heroin and street drugs, there does not seem to be a stigma attached to using it. The real truth is... using painkillers like OxyContin® can lead a person to a heroin addiction. Heroin is less expensive and very easy to obtain.  If a patient who used OxyContin® can no longer obtain it for one reason or another (loss of insurance coverage, provider will no longer prescribe, etc.) they may still be addicted to opioids but they have no access to them....Heroin becomes the answer to the problem. For recreational users who snort or inject OxyContin®...the addiction potential is greatly increased.

These problems have brought rise to the current situation...tighter regulations of OxyContin® and other opioids by various State, Local, and Federal authorities...and rising rates of heroin addiction.

Sources:; wikipedia;wikimedia


Popular posts from this blog

Living with Chronic pain hits the big screen!

Been to the movies lately?  Jennifer Aniston is on the big screen in a recent release titled "Cake."
Her character, Claire is a victim of chronic pain...she belongs to a support group, where all of the members are coming to terms with the suicide of one of their members.  Of course, she also takes pain medication and addiction is another of her problems...and of course there's more!

I guess I am writing this post just to bring readers' attention to the fact that Hollywood has become aware of the crisis that is chronic pain.  This movie is a testament to that. People that don't have to live with this kind of pain don't fully understand the whole story.  Maybe this movie will shed some light on the issues.

Here is the official trailer for the movie:

Sources: prweb;;YouTube

Herpes As A Helper?

If you've ever had shingles, or known anyone that has experienced it, you probably know that chronic pain can persist following the initial attack (post herpetic neuralgia).  This is because the herpes virus seems to have an affinity for nerve cells.  And while it's not fun to have shingles or post herpetic neuralgia, the herpes virus may be a key in future development of delivery systems for pain management treatments.

Here's the deal--since Herpes simplex has an affinity for nerve cells, researchers are looking a genetically modified, safer version of the virus to deliver genetic material to damaged nerves.  In simple terms, once the genetic material reaches these nerve cells, it will hopefully encode these nerves to ultimately inhibit pain signals.  Animal studies and clinical trials in cancer patients have been encouraging thus far.

This is one of those developments that makes me believe that there is hope for those in chronic pain. Along with so many other exciting d…

The Knee Bone's Connected To The Leg Bone....

Two recent studies have brought a not-so-novel concept into the limelight-the concept being that people who present with knee pain often develop pain in other parts of their bodies.  These studies, known as the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study (MOST) and the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), were assessed by a Clinical Epidemiology Team as Boston University School of Medicine in an effort to find preventive strategies to combat this trend.

The authors suggest that knee pain may cause individuals to alter their gait in an effort to compensate for their discomfort. In doing so, the alignment of other body joints is altered, and this may be the cause of secondary joint pain, especially hips and ankles. The authors go on to say that the pain in these secondary sites is not necessarily osteoarthritis--perhaps bursitis or some other injury.

Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear in the joints.  We may not be able to completely eliminate osteoarthritis from occurring, but some common se…