The month of May is Medication Dependence Prevention Month.
There is a health emergency currently happening in Australia, and the number of incidents and fatalities caused by high risk prescription medications is on the rise.
In Victoria alone, the number of people lost to overdoses of prescription medication exceeds the number lost on its roads.
Prescription medications can certainly have their place in health care, especially with short term care and crisis situations, however now more than ever, high risk medications are being accidentally misused, or used long-term, which can have fatal consequences.
Opioids and Benzodiazepines are two of the biggest contributors to overdoses in Australia, and these drugs can be extremely addictive. Signs of dependence may present without you even recognising them, including an increasing tolerance, reduced drug effectiveness and even mild signs of withdrawal.
The problem with high risk prescription medications is that they are commonly misunderstood.
They are often used as tools to manage extreme pain (for example, after a major surgery), but only for the short-term. Unfortunately these medications do little to address the cause of pain and therefore should not be considered a long-term solution.
In fact, it has been shown that long-term usage of prescription painkillers is not only less effective at managing chronic pain, but can also cause an increase in pain levels in the long-term.
Often a multimodal approach is very effective at helping manage chronic pain.
Chiropractic has been shown to be very effective in managing chronic pain. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine compared chronic pain treatment in a hospital setting or a pain clinic compared to chiropractic care. The trial of 30 individuals showed that chiropractic may be effective at reducing levels of disability and perceived pain.
Another study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics investigated the long-term outcomes for patients with chronic low back pain. The study concluded that chiropractic care compared favourably to medical care with respect to long-term pain and disability outcomes.
If you are prescribed an opioid, a sleeping pill, sedative or strong pain medication, make sure you speak to a professional and develop a plan around when and how to stop. If you feel like you may need help, seek advice from a health care professional. If chronic pain and/or prescription dependency is something that impacts you or someone you know - please reach out, because writing the cause is better than writing prescriptions.