Just because the doctor said it was okay, doesn’t actually make it okay.
One of the leading causes of the opioid epidemic is prescription drug abuse . Many who receive specific medications develop an addiction they feel they have no control over. In turn, when these prescriptions run out, they turn to the streets to get their fix.
Whether it be for chronic pain or a mental health condition, the United States has never had such a high percentage of people receiving medication. Though Americans only make up 5% of the world’s total population, we use up nearly 80% of all prescription opioid drugs available . For both medical and nonmedical needs.
Part of the reason this crisis has been allowed to go so far is people feel they NEED a prescription for the various illnesses and pains our struggling lives bring us. The purpose of this blog is to show the reasons you DON’T NEED a prescription, regardless of your case of illness.
Throughout this post, we’ll also offer tips and ideas to help relieve pain and stress in hopes you’ll find a more natural remedy to your complication. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
An Evolving Crisis
There’s no denying America’s opioid crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. It’s estimated more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose within the United States every day . With prescription opioid misuse alone costing the country over $78 billion a year for the following:
- Addiction treatment
- Criminal justice involvement
- Lack of productivity
So, how did this all happen?
It started in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies promised the medical community prescription opioid pain relievers weren’t addictive. In turn, healthcare providers started supplying them to the public at a greater rate.
Since these medications were highly addictive, widespread recreational and embezzlement of prescription opioids naturally spread .
The same is true for mental health medication. The only difference is, mental illness has also been on the rise in America . If this trend continues, prescription abuse will inevitably too.
The unfortunate truth is mental illness prescription is only meant for short term use. For example, someone with anxiety should only receive medication for Xanax for upwards of a few months.
Yet, many people either continually report symptoms or, if a doctor refuses to offer more of a prescription, will go to another doctor for their medication. A habit which is known as “doctor shopping”.
If you aren’t yet convinced that those medications your doctor teases are a threat, just take a look at the statistics. Since the 1990s, opioids have taken more lives and ruined more families in America compared to any time in history.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports :
- Since the turn of the century, nearly half a million Americans have died due to opioids.
- Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, most opioid deaths were a result of prescription medication.
- In 2010, a high increase in heroin overdoses began to occur.
- In 2013, a high increase in synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) began to occur.
As the chart above informs, overdose rates are increasing primarily with synthetic opioids. This is due to their wide availability, cheap price, and powerful high . However, though the prime reason these substances are a threat is that fentanyl has been approved for doctors to prescribe.
In terms of synthetic opioids, the CDC reports :
- Synthetic opioids resulted in over 28,000 deaths in 2017 alone.
- Much of those deaths occurred in males between the ages of 25 and 44.
Taking into consideration the threat of prescription of both synthetic and natural opioids, it comes as no surprise the epidemic we are currently witnessing is bound to evolve.
Still, it should be noted, there have been actions to reduce prescription amounts doctors are allowed to give out. Since 2010, prescribing rates for opioids have reduced by nearly 20%. Furthermore, the high-dosage rate has also dropped about 5% .
The Future of Addictive Medication
The good news is overall deaths due to prescription opioids have been dropping alongside prescription rates. At the peak of this crisis, there 6.1 of every 100,000 men were dying to the medication handed to them by their doctors. In 2017, that number has dropped to around 4.2.
Yet, opioid deaths as a whole continue to increase. And this is primarily due to the ever-growing illicit market the United States medication system has instituted.
Of course, not everyone who tried heroin or fentanyl had started with a prescription opioid. But more than enough people did to create an illegal economy worth billions. Though prescription rates have fallen, the opioid market as a whole continues to rise .
There also remains an alarm for people who might not come across as victims of this epidemic. In those ages 65 and older, there’s been a significant increase in prescription opioid deaths. Part of the reason may have to do with the fact that depression rates are rising amongst senior citizens .
This fight goes beyond mere drugs themselves. People don’t take to opioids just for the hell of it. They do so because something else is missing in their lives. And this something else might just have a lot to do with mental health.
Mental Illness and Addiction
As the National Bureau of Economic Research puts it, there is “a definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances” . In fact, people diagnosed with a mental disorder are reported to consume:
- 38% of alcohol
- 40% of cigarettes
- 44% of cocaine
The Bureau also reports that people diagnosed with a mental disorder had consumed addictive substances at some point in their lives with the following rates:
- 69% of alcohol
- 68% of cigarettes
- 84% of cocaine
So, why is there a trend between mental illness and substance abuse?
The most common answer mental health professionals will give you is people of a mental health condition use drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication .
There are a number of reasons someone would decide to self-medicate instead of seeing a doctor. For example, due to the stigma surrounding mental health, a person struggling might not want those around him/her to know of his/her condition.
Still, as the title of this article entails, you should even be wary of going to a doctor. For the medication they prescribe is just can be just as addictive as what the streets offer people to self-medicate with.
For most people struggling with mental health, they’re simply looking for an answer to relieve much of the stress and pain their condition brings. Mind-altering substances initially appear to offer this alleviation.
However, as the statistics show, this is anything but true. In fact, more often than not, drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication bring on more problems than mental illness itself does.
So, what can people struggling with a mental disorder do in order to alleviate their symptoms? Luckily, there are a number of options available.
To begin, we can take a look at the variety of natural supplements already being suggested by mental health professionals. Admittedly, you could write a whole book on these supplements and their versatile uses for different mental disorders.
In order to stay concise, we’re going to take a look at each mental illness covered by Bedlamite and provide you with the most common natural supplements. We encourage you to do further research in order to learn more about the effects of each of these.
- Anxiety: Ashwagandha, Chamomile, Kava Kava, Lavender, Lemon Balm Passionflower, Rhodiola Rosea, Valerian Root
- ADHD: High-Protein Foods/Drinks, Iron, Magnesium, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin C, Zinc
- Bipolar Disorder: Choline, Inositol, N-Acetylcysteine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Rhodiola Rosea, S-Adenosylmethionine, St. John’s Wort
- Depression: 5-HTP, Chamomile, Ginseng, Lavender, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Saffron, S-Adenosylmethionine, St. John’s Wort
- OCD: 5-HTP, Inositol, Milk Thistle (Silybum Marianum), N-Acetylcysteine, St. John’s Wort
- PTSD: Inositol, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lavender, St. John’s Wort
- Schizophrenia: B-Vitamins, Choline, D-Alanine, D-Serine, Melatonin, N-Acetylcysteine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Sarcosine
- Substance Abuse Disorder: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Citicoline, Glutathione, Magnesium, N-Acetylcysteine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Theanine, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc
Habits for Healthier Life
Besides natural supplements, there are other ways in which you can ease symptoms brought on by mental illness. These include, but aren’t limited to:
It’s been proven that people who take time to be creative are often rewarded with a sense of satisfaction. Especially when this creation involves your hands. Activities such as painting or knitting cause your brain and body to connect in a way which is very beneficial to your mental health.
It’s obvious information that exercise is beneficial to our health. But it’s not as common knowledge the positive impact endorphins have on brain function. Due to a dopamine release caused by physical activity, endorphins reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What we eat has a lot to do with how we feel. Though research continues in how our diet affects our mood, there’s more evidence appearing that the food we decide to eat encourages our brain’s health. The better the food is for you, the better your brain (and body) feel after consumption.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Without proper sleep, you’re hurting your brain and body in a number of ways. Poor sleep is connected to:
- Heart Disease
- Weight Gain
In order to gain better sleep, the first step is to make it a priority. If you have trouble getting to bed at night, it’s important to find a natural remedy to help this complication. For those who don’t pay the price in the long-term as well as the short.
If you’re going to exercise, you might as well take a run through nature too. By being surrounded by natural beauty, serotonin organically boosts within our brain.
There are so many forms of meditation, you have a lot of opportunities to experiment. However, even by simply sitting in an upright position and taking deep breaths for just five minutes, you could be doing wonders to your mental health. Next time you feel your mind racing, take a moment to relax and restabilize yourself.
If you’ve ever received treatment for your mental health condition, then you’re aware of the importance of psychotherapy (or talk therapy). The purpose of this counseling is to help you better understand your emotions and patterns. In turn, your comprehension will help you better develop coping mechanisms.
Still have questions surrounding prescription medication and what you can do to alleviate pain/stress without them?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have further knowledge or advice to offer, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Understanding the Epidemic
 NIH: Opioid Overdose Crisis
 Morone NE, Weiner DK. Pain as the fifth vital sign: exposing the vital need for pain education. Clin Ther. 2013;35(11):1728-1732. doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2013.10.001.
 Psychology Today: Are Mental Health Issues On the Rise?
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Opioid Data Analysis and Resources
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Prescription Opioid Data
 Grand Review Research: Opioid Market Size, Share, Trends Analysis Report
 HHS Public Access: Depression in Older Adults
 The National Bureau of Economic Research: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
 Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy: Self-medication: A current challenge