Killing thousands of Americans

President Trump has promised a major announcement and action on the opioid abuse crisis in the coming days – welcome news to deal with a growing and deadly problem.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted to opioids and says that “from 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.” That’s a quadrupling of the death rate from these prescription drugs since 1999.

Even before the president’s upcoming announcement, his administration has begun taking action. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is revising the rules for approval and removal of opioids from circulation, and enhancing and expanding health care provider opioid education to include nurses and pharmacists.

An important step in combating the opioid epidemic is to cut the skyrocketing growth of opioid prescriptions. About 38 percent of the adult U.S. population, amounting to nearly 92 million people, took opioids they were prescribed in 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found.

The best way to do deal with the epidemic is to address the sources of pain, rather than just managing the symptoms with opioids.

The vast majority of opioid abuse and addiction cases begin with doctors and other health care providers offering relief from pain. Opioids provide the relief, but not by addressing the pain. Instead, the drugs induce a numbed and euphoric state in which suffering is temporarily masked.

However, short-term relief can lead to increased future pain if the underlying source of pain is not healed. And the pills put patients – and everyone with access to their medicine cabinets – at risk of dependence.

For retired Army Brig. Gen. Rebecca Halstead, who was America’s first female commanding general in combat, chiropractic care was the right alternative. She says it saved her life.

When Halstead suffered unmanageable pain due to chronic fibromyalgia the solution offered by the military was multiple prescription medications. “I refused and sought out other solutions,” she says.