What if I told you that the way we think about health could be indirectly the foundation of something that has killed more people last year than American casualties in the Vietnam and Iraq wars combined? The opioid epidemic. That has been a buzz word only in the last few years but how long has this been in development? Good question. Well, what do you think happens when we are trained to believe that our problems can be solved with a quick fix? We tear our bodies up day in and day out with faulty movement patterns from active jobs, inactivity from sitting down all day, and our bodies are left without the proper nutrition to manage these stresses because of the typical diet in our modern society.

So now we can all agree that opioids can be problematic when used as a band aid for pain. If you were to buy the chemical equivalent of pharmaceutical opioids on the street and got caught, you and your dealer would go to jail. But a medical professional who pays his dues and is licensed by the state can say “oh, yep you sure do have pain” and boom, you got medical grade heroin in a pill and it’s totally legal. And therefore good for you, right? But let’s not put the blame on modern healthcare, or medical professionals. Just like most everything else, trends are led by the value that people put on them. And value equals money. We have been taught to value quick fixes and successes w the least amount of work possible. Have we already forgotten the story of the three little pigs!?

Spoiler alert: the two pigs who took the easy way out in building their shelter got to enjoy more leisure time than the wise pig that built the brick house, but met their early demise by a bacon hungry wolf who decided to ruin their day. We build our foundation of health to be very weak for convenience instead of making the proper investments for lasting health. And now 116 people overdose a day on opioid medication (statistic from HRSA)* and we think that the lasting solution is another drug that would counteract overdosing. What is happening is this; patient comes in with pain. There is no “serious” problem for a surgery to be necessary so the patient receives opioid based pain medication which jumbles your perception of pain and gives you a heightened sense of wellbeing and pleasure. So you take the pill and feel better for a limited time before you need to take another. Well after a while you gain a tolerance so you need more of that opioid to feel the same amount of pain relief.  So next, you ask your doctor about increasing your dose and because they have always known how addictive these drugs are, they say no. What we see happen next is these people turn to the street equivalent, sometimes pills, sometimes heroin so they can get relief with no recommendations on how much to take and no monitoring from a professional. And now there is a nasty synthetic opioid being mixed in to street drugs called fentanyl, meaning if this keeps up it could continue to get worse.

The older I get and more I read and learn, the more I realize how important it is to change the way you think to make the big changes in your life. There is no perfect quick fix to solve all of your health problems. It takes more work than remembering to pop a pill a couple of times a day. It takes discipline, consistency and commitment. If you do not want to live in pain you have to make preventative changes in your life. If you do not want to rely on a pill that at the end of the day will only leave you wanting more until it kills you, then you have to make preventative changes in your life. Get moving. Eat what you need to supply your body with the right fuel and then supplement what is inadequate or missing. Don’t wait to listen to your body until it is screaming. Stop waiting until it is too late.

How much further are we going to take this before we wake up? How many more people have to suffer? Realize that even if we take out opioids from the equation, we will get to the same conclusion eventually unless we change how we THINK. No more band aids on our health and wellbeing. We need true change, and that starts with our mindset.

What steps are you taking to improving and maintaining your health?

Always with Love,
Dr. J