By Ann Barnet M.D.
Soon after I finished my medical training, I was asked to help at a small clinic in Northern California. The community had been traumatized by a pain medicine specialist who developed a habit of prescribing his patient’s absurd and unsafe doses of painkillers.
His dangerous practice of medicine resulted in dozens of people becoming both physically and psychologically addicted. He was only shut down after several of his patients died. With the loss of his license to prescribe more of these substances and the other local physicians reluctant to take on such high risk clientele, many of these patients felt desperate and abandoned.
Unfortunately, this is hardly a unique situation. Over half of the injury deaths in the US are due to drug overdoses and of these deaths - 75% are due to opiate pain killers. This trend is especially bad in the US - where we make up approximately 4.4% of the global population but use 30% of the world supply of opiates.
Are we just better at treating pain? Worldwide date says no - we are not. So why does this crisis exist? Large pharmaceutical companies manipulated opiate related research data. At least one unethical former official at the FDA certified opiate safety, when there was zero data to support this. Deceptive and questionable partnerships between some influential U.S. physicians and pharmaceutical companies fueled the fire of the opiate crisis.
The problems trickled down from there.
Our healthcare system is mostly for profit, so there is incentive to see a large number of patients as quickly as possible and for those patient’s to be as happy as possible. No physician wants to see a person suffering, so the practice of freely prescribing opiates for people in pain checked all three boxes
- It’s quick
- In the short term it makes people happy
- in the short term it can relieve suffering
Short term benefits with high long term costs.
In the past few years, the amount of opiates a physician can prescribe has been limited by the government and prescriptions are closely tracked. This has left many health care providers and patients in an awkward situation.
Why was it okay for my doctor five years ago to give me these but it’s not okay now. Many patients are feeling judged and labeled as “drug seekers” if they even ask.
Most physicians are unaware that there are safe and effective alternatives out there. We were not taught about these things in medical school (other than willow tree bark “aka aspirin).
It’s understandable to be wary of “natural” products if you don’t know where they come, how the body processes them and how they may interact with other medications.
Luckily that data exists and we put it to use in our clinic, where we sat face to face with real people paying the long term costs. People who were ready for a better, life affirming option.
From the now addicted father, whose daughter had been one of the accidental overdose victims, to the aspiring paramedic who went to see this pain specialist for work related pain and found himself unable to work - it was now unsafe for him to drive.
We found a way to help these people find a way to better manage their pain and start healing the underlying issues. The ingredients found in our pain formula was an essential part of our prescription for healing, but were much more powerful when combined with mindfulness life hacks.
Learn more about some of the important things we discovered and our strategies to provide long term benefits across our website!