Some thought provoking reading landed in my inbox this week about issues with addiction and pain relief medication.
First, I received news about Demerol due to Michael Jackson's use of the drug. I read how a Long Island anaesthesiologist and pain management specialist told Fox News that "Demerol has a tremendous amount of side effects" and "provides euphoria [which] basically makes the patient not care about their pain anymore."
The report went on to state that: Demerol acts on the central nervous system, tricking the brain by replacing the feeling of pain with a “high.” People who take Demerol for chronic pain often become addicted to the drug and require more and more of it to get the same effect. [emphasis mine]
Then I read how one mother's son can go into any medical facility, fake pain and walk out with a prescription. A prescription that will make him feel high. Sometimes the hospitals even know he's faking, and that hundreds of other teenagers are too, but say they can't do anything about it.
Last night I heard from a friend who was prescribed three different pain killers for a suspected frozen shoulder, when they ran out and his shoulder still hurt he applied for a repeat prescription and was told: "you can't just ask for those, they're really strong drugs". His question: "then why did you give them to me so readily in the first place?" and "why was I not made aware how strong they were when they were prescribed?"
What are you on?
Next came a post from Jonathan Fields where he shares how a nurse questioned him about what medication he was taking:
Jonathan: "It all seemed normal until she asked, “what meds are you currently taking?”
None, I said. She stopped typing, turned to look at me as if I’d just grown a third eye. She then rattled off a mini laundry list of meds I surely had forgotten to tell her about. With each one I shook my head no.
Something about that exchange really bothered me. It wasn’t that I was being questioned or that her demeanor was disrespectful. It was something much bigger. What bothered me so much was that we’ve become a nation in such physical disrepair that the automatic assumption was that a 43 year old American male simply had to be on something! "
It bothers me too, that in a society where everyone is heading towards ADHD rather than balance, and where most of us are over stressed and spread too thin, there is a very real danger that if we come in contact with pain relief medications that cause artificial emotional relief/highs we will never want to stop taking them.
My Own Warning
A few years ago I was suffering from occasional bad headaches, the pain was intense and bordering on a migraine, when someone recommended a new over-the-counter painkiller that worked for them I decided to try it. It basically contained paracetamol and codeine but with an added muscle relaxant, nothing too heavy, but the first time I took it I felt a wave of relaxation come over me after about and hour and I started to feel really drowsy. At that time I was also suffering from constant muscle pain in my neck, and shoulders, to my surprise this one little headache tablet melted it all away and I felt great. The relief was amazing and I felt so relaxed and happy I just didn't care about anything.
That's when the alarm bells rang and I realised there was no way I wanted to be taking this drug regularly. It would be all too easy to get to like that feeling and to seek it out more and more frequently and from a drug that would leave me drowsy for hours. No thank you. I took it very occasionally when a bad headache struck, and kept no more than two tablets in my bag for "emergencies". And that was an over the counter drug. Not really heavy and not really addictive, except that all addiction starts in trying to "feel good".
With the help of my Ayurvedic practitioner the muscle pain I was experiencing is now a thing of the past, treated with natural herbs and medicated massage oil, he's also addressing the headaches with herbs and dietary advice and I can't remember the last time I took a painkiller. As for that delicious wave of relief and relaxation, that I get from all kinds of other sources: meditation, kirtan, walking in nature, swimming in the sea. All of these things have given me the exact same feeling that I was having with that one little pill. What they don't give me is a chemically induced sleep and foul tasting dried out mouth the next morning.
I understand that when we're in real pain we might need help. I, who prefer natural medicine above anything else, was heard to shout "epidural!" when there were complications during my daughter's birth. I'd squatted, breathed and prepared naturally for that birth for months, but when things got rough and I'd been in pain for three days I took whatever help there was, when a nurse suggested a "nice warm bath" I told her "OK but the gas and air is coming with me!"
My point is not to judge the appropriate use of pain relief, or those who need to take it. My concern is that when we're stressed and anxious and we encounter medication that happens to reduce those unpleasant feelings we can develop a very unhealthy dependant relationship with it. Hence we have medical staff expecting anyone in their forties to be on something. And that's not good.
Photo by limowreck666
For further reading on addiction in general Wendi Freisen has some very interesting things to say in her new series: Addiction, Power and Change. She also writes openly about her son's struggle with addiction.
Natural Alternatives & Increasing Our Sense of Wellbeing
If we felt good about ourselves and knew how to relax naturally there would be two very positive outcomes that would protect us all from seeking solace in prescriptions:
1. we would be in less pain anyway (both emotionally and physically)
2. we would know how to relax and feel calm naturally and not get attached to having to get those feelings from medications
We owe it to ourselves to protect ourselves from sliding into a chemically suppressed and less effective life. While temporary relief from pain is welcome, pain relief cocktails that affect our consciousness are not.
Tools to help you relax and reduce pain naturally:
Natural Release: Progressive Muscle Relaxation Stress Relief Download
Beyond the Clouds: Relaxing Yoga Meditation Download
The Lullaby deep relaxation hypnosis with Dr Silvia Hartmann
Serious Help for Serious Addictions
For help with addiction I recommend Wendi's Addiction project - this is not an affiliate link, it's a personal recommendation for a smart lady who I believe knows how to really help people.
Are you ready for more?
Wendi has just filmed a 3 hour show on Addiction Freedom, in the first hour she starts out by talking about prescription drug addictions and the story of her son's struggle. Watch it here...