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How Are Fibromyalgia and Drug Addiction Connected?
It is no surprise that if you have fibromyalgia, pain is a huge part of your life. I have had fibromyalgia for over 20 years and along the way, I have had to take a Tylenol or two for pain relief. These are safe, non-habit forming, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory painkillers known as ibuprofen or aspirin. I’m not talking about an occasional over the counter pain pill. I am talking about narcotic prescription painkillers or (opioids) and how they can lead to addiction. That is the dilemma I want to address today.
Depending on the severity of pain, we may need something stronger and a doctor will prescribe painkillers. We think that because our doctor prescribes a painkiller that it is safe. The problem with taking prescription painkillers (as prescribed) is that eventually the body adjusts to the dose prescribed and most of the time patients have to increase their dosage to get the same relief they had at a lower dose. That IS how addiction starts. Since pain and fibromyalgia go hand in hand, we must create awareness of this phenomenon to patients and healthcare providers. Both need to educate themselves about safe and proper pain management.
First, What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a health condition that causes chronic pain and involves the muscles, joints and connective tissue. Pain is widespread throughout the body and has 18+ trigger points. Some other symptoms of fibromyalgia are below. These can vary between patients. For more on what fibromyalgia is read this article
- tingling and numbness in the limbs
- headaches, which include migraines
- stiffness in the joints upon waking up
- mental fog (inability to focus or think clearly)
- lack of concentration
- body temperature malfunction
- irritable bowel syndrome
- painful menstrual cramps
Now, Let’s Get To The Statistics
According to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) 48 million people have an addiction to painkillers. Fibromyalgia accounts for approximately 10 million people in the US. That is a lot of people living with chronic pain so it makes sense why the addiction rate is so high and rising. Now, let me say that I don’t mean that all people with fibromyalgia are addicts. I’m just stating that these stats should concern us enough to create awareness. May is fibromyalgia awareness month. Let’s create awareness by sharing this information with someone you know that has fibromyalgia.
Here is a list of prescription opioids
- Hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- Morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, MS Contin)
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic)
Here is a list of their side effects
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
Severe side effects of narcotic analgesics include:
- Trouble breathing (respiratory depression)
- Chest pain
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
You don’t have to settle for the side effects of these addictive prescriptions. You can manage fibromyalgia in a way that is much safer, natural and non-addictive.
Ways To Manage Pain Naturally
- Diet – I know, we hate to hear it, at least I know I do. Diet contributes to how we feel, good or bad. You should avoid foods that contribute to inflammation such as sugars, carbs, caffeine, sodas, animal fats, dairy. For my full article on what to eat if you have fibromyalgia click here.
- Exercise – I know, the other bad word. If you are like me, you hate exercise, not to mention it is the last thing on the mind of someone with fibromyalgia. Believe it or not, exercise actually helps manage pain. For a list of the 4 best exercises for fibromyalgia click here.
- Natural pain relief – CBD Oil. This is the method I choose to use for my pain relief. I know it is a controversial subject, but I have changed my mind about how I feel about “pot”. Ever since I learned more about CBD oil, my thoughts are completely different about using CBD oil for pain. The problem I had with it before was that I didn’t want to be “high”. I had never smoked “pot” in my life and I had/have strong convictions about how it should be used. I was/am against using it irresponsibly but I do believe in it for pain. However, I didn’t like the way smoking marijuana made me feel (hallucinogenic) so I kept researching about using marijuana for pain relief and learned that you don’t need to smoke and get high. CBD oil is non-hallucinogenic and has a completely different effect. Another difference is smoking marijuana eliminates the pain temporarily while taking CBD oil on a regular basis is the most effective way to go about pain management. It takes a few weeks for it to start working but it is the best way. For more on this topic read my article here. The quality of CBD oil makes a difference, I use CBD Pure because it is 100% organically grown. To learn more about CBD oil and/or hear what Fibromyalgia patients have to say about it CLICK HERE!
Other Natural Alternatives – If you still don’t feel comfortable with marijuana or CBD oil, there are other alternatives. Per WebMD. these are supplements that you can take for managing fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain.
- 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan). A building block brain chemical. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, so it’s believed that raising serotonin levels can lead to a better mood. One study found that 5-HTP supplements may also help ease anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia pain, and morning stiffness.
- SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) is an amino acid derivative that may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, another brain chemical.
- Melatonin is a hormone and helps with sleep. Low levels of this hormone can increase sleeping problems, which in turn amplify fibromyalgia symptoms.
It has been proven that insomnia, depression and fibromyalgia pain are linked. The less you sleep, the more fibromyalgia symptoms (like pain and depression) will increase. So, it makes sense to treat the sleeping problem. It helps improve depression and fibromyalgia pain. However, managing fibromyalgia pain isn’t a one and done condition. It is a combination of all 3 areas above (diet, exercise, and a natural pain management regime) that is going to give you maximum results in managing pain long term.
In conclusion, my thoughts are this… Fibromyalgia is a life debilitating condition and as of yet, there is no cure. My thoughts are my own, and I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but I am a fibromyalgia patient. Please don’t take anything you read in this article as a substitute for anything your doctor has suggested you do. We have to be advocates of our own health, and research is a big part of knowing how to deal with this condition. Of course, everyone has a choice as to how they go about treating fibromyalgia and I suggest you do what works for YOU.
I hope that this article has been informative. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
I would also love to hear what you have to say about this topic. Please leave me your thoughts. I value them and look forward to interacting with you.