There May Be An End to Our Opiate Problem and No One Cares
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There May Be An End to Our Opiate Problem and No One Cares


Killing Time and Killing Pain is Killing Us

How many words does it take to introduce a possible solution to the rapidly growing opiate epidemic in our country? The answer, apparently, is 75; at least that’s how much ink was spilled on Oklahoma’s Channel 4 story’s news site. While our preferred news sources inundate us almost daily with heartbreaking stories of heroin overdoses and rampant Oxyconin abuse—to the point where governors are banning the distribution of new painkillers and law enforcement, clinical experts and social workers are up in arms about how to tackle or even arrest the problem—media outlets around the country don’t see the discovery of a non-addictive enzyme for pain reduction to be newsworthy? Even Oklahoma only figured it was worth 100 words—which inspires me to take four times that to complain about it.

Not Narcotics But Still Drugs: Are Addicts Safe?

According to the extremely short report, scientists at Stanford University were researching the relationship between drinking and heart heath when they realized that one of the enzymes they were working with might be a non-addictive component to pain reduction. Nothing is official but they are continuing to conduct tests on lab mice, so that’s…good? My only hope is that it might be a viable step towards a competitive non-narcotic alternative to powerful opiates like fentanyl, Opana and the latest, Zohydro, because right now it doesn’t seem like there are enough good options out there. Of course, narcotic or not, almost anything can be abused and true addicts would abuse Tic Tacs if they thought it might give them a buzz.

When it comes to the opiate addiction problem in our country, people break down into two categories: those who abuse opiates and are now addicted, and those who suffer from chronic pain and have been prescribed opiates but have now become addicted. The tricky part is, if someone in the latter group wants to get clean, they still need options for pain management. It’s like being a food addict but still having to eat. Drugs like Lyrica (nerve pain), Cymbalta (muscle/bone pain) and Celebrex (joint pain) have yielded good results but they have side effects that don’t work for everyone. More powerful non-narcotics like Tramadol can be a good option; especially for people in recovery who can’t take narcotics but are experiencing acute or chronic pain, but even that is now reportedly being abused.

So yes, we need more options when it comes to non-addictive medication because there are people out there who need it—some stuck in an addictive cycle with drugs because they don’t know where to turn to manage their pain—and while the findings of the Stanford scientists may be a ways from a tangible alternative in pill form, it certainly warrants more than a buried and passing blurb.

Oh and this is 463 words—told you I could do it.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.