ACUPUNCTURE FOR PAIN: DON’T LET THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC NEEDLE YOU

December 13, 2017

Australia is on the brink of an opioid overdose epidemic that threatens to rival that of the one now raging in the United States, where nearly 100 people a day die from opioid overdose. Not even car accidents kill that many.  In Australia, deaths from opioid overdoses have more than doubled since 2007. A quarter of these deaths involve young people aged from about 25 to 35. 

If this pattern continues, Australia is headed straight for a fall.

Doctors often find prescription pain pills to be an easy solution for patients in pain. When properly monitored and used in the short term, opioids are a good option. But when misguided doctors fail to properly supervise their use, and don’t recognise the hallmark signs of addiction, misuse and abuse, they can contribute mightily to the opioid overdose epidemic.

Genetics play a strong, but not singular, role in drug addictions of all types. 

Not everyone can take opioid drugs. Some people are taking other drugs that interact with opioids. Others have medical conditions that preclude their use. It’s also possible to be allergic to them. This is rare, but not impossible. Others can’t tolerate the side effects, or else they have jobs which forbid their use: bus or train operator and pilot are two examples.

Acupuncture for Pain

Acupuncture is an excellent alternative to opioids for the relief of all kinds of pain.  

  • How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture uses tiny, ultra-thin needles that are inserted into certain points on the body. It’s not painful. These needles stimulate the points where they are inserted, releasing a form of energy called qi, or chi, restoring balance in the body. One Australian study found acupuncture to be just as effective as medication

There are even more benefits:

  • Acupuncture therapy causes the body to release brain chemicals called endorphins, which are the body’s own natural painkillers. Endorphins also create a feeling of calmness and well-being. In fact, endorphins act on the same receptors as opioids do. 
  • Acupuncture increases circulation.
  • Boosts the immune system. 
  • Has direct effects on the central nervous system. 

 

Acupuncture for Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid drug withdrawal is very painful. It causes severe weakness and terrible insomnia as well. Symptoms can persist for up to a month and more. Many opioid-addicted patients refuse to stop using the drugs simply because they can’t cope with the withdrawal symptoms. There are medications that can help these patients, but some are addictive in themselves. Others must be used only under close medical supervision in detox and treatment centres.

Acupuncture has been used for the non-drug treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms for centuries in China. Acupuncture causes the body to release endorphins, which are the body’s own natural opioids. These endorphins then attach to the brain’s opioid receptors, resulting in relief from pain and anxiety, and they also provide relief from withdrawal symptoms through the same mechanism. 

The next time you are in pain severe enough to consult a doctor, and before you accept that prescription for an opioid, think again. Think about the possible consequences. If you’d like to try acupuncture, or you just have questions about it, we’d be happy to help you. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Read more about Acupuncture as a wiser choice for pain management here. 

Contact SITCM