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Canada's seniors are becoming addicted to painkillers

Don’t Be a Statistic

Senior couple We’ve touched on this subject a couple times before, but the severity of the issue struck us again when we read a recent article on the subject from the UC Observer.

As the article states, about one in five Canadians, and perhaps three in five seniors, live with chronic pain. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), nearly 15 percent of the general population and roughly 16 percent of seniors use pain relievers such as morphine, oxycodone (better known as OxyContin), and fentanyl.

These drugs are all in the opioid family. Opioids can have a range of negative side effects, not the least of which is addiction, which can lead to overuse and death.

Prescription opioid use is at record levels

This is a growing issue in Canada. We are the world’s second-largest per capita consumer of opioids behind the United States. The trend is most prevalent in Ontario – the biggest per-capita user of prescription painkillers in the country. In 2015, doctors wrote 8.1 million prescriptions for opioids, enough for nearly every person between the ages of 15 and 64 in the province, according to figures compiled for The Globe and Mail by health services company IMS Brogan.

That UC Observer article is called “Aging and Addicted” for good reason. Recent headlines have focused on the growing number of deaths related to fentanyl and other opioids in cities like Vancouver. But the problem with opioid overuse and misuse is increasingly an issue among seniors, not just recreational drug users and teenagers under pressure from their peers. Our elderly population is rapidly growing, and with it, the number of people with age and lifestyle-related conditions that cause persistent pain and suffering.

Treat the root cause, not the symptom

During the new patient exams, we frequently hear stories and record the list of medications that many senior (and not so senior) patients take to control pain levels for things like migraines, headaches, arthritis, and back and leg pain. Their health histories are consistent with the article of increasing dosages and strengths of medication. They aren’t getting the pain relief they’re looking for and must deal with the side effects of the medications.

That’s because a pain killer is treating the symptom, not the root cause. In many cases, we see people suffering increasing pain because the root cause of their pain is getting progressively worse and more powerful drugs are required to garner any relief.

It’s a vicious downward spiral with one inevitable and unpleasant end.

Before you consign yourself to this dim prognosis, consider how you might treat the root cause of your pain and free yourself from a dependence on harmful drugs.

What our patients tell us

Chiropractic may help if the source of your pain can be traced to misalignments of your spine. We have no shortage of patient stories to prove it. Our patients have made some huge gains. Here is some of the feedback we get:

  • Better mobility
  • Being able to do a head check in the car – less nervous about driving – ability to remain out in the community and socially active.
  • Continue with passions – gardening, walking groups, cooking.
  • Ability to stand while doing dishes, shaving, and other daily life tasks.
  • Take the stairs – both up and down – being able to now go down to the basement, or to an upstairs bedroom. Not having to place hands on the stairs to climb up.
  • Regaining or maintaining ability to live full, independent lives.

Here is a recent testimonial from one of our patients that she posted online:

“I am a 70-year-old, very active woman, who found myself with much back and leg pain. I was given a gift certificate to have X-rays and an examination and a treatment session (at our clinic) – what a difference after the first treatment. That was more than three months ago – I am pain free and getting more mobile every day …. looking forward to spring/summer and a huge community garden project.”

Find out if we can help

Can Chiropractic help relieve your pain at the source and prevent you from dependence, even addiction, to drugs? Come see us and find out. What you got to lose other than your pain? Or maybe you have an elderly loved one we could help. We are always available for a chat.

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