By now you’ve heard the news about the BC teen who died after an opioid related overdose this past spring. Sixteen-year old Elliot Eurchuk was introduced to prescriptions drugs not by street dealers, but by a physician as a means to ease the pain from sports related injuries that athletes are all too familiar with. This tragic case is unfortunately not uncommon, as approximately 17 Canadians a day are hospitalized due to opioid poisoning, and between 2016 and 2018 an estimated 10,300 Canadians have died from an apparent opioid-related overdose. In the time that it takes to write this article, one more Canadian will have died from the same culprit. The word crisis is succinct, if not an understatement.
In case the above data is not enough, we are providing a list of some (not all) key reasons why you should first seek help from a physiotherapist for pain management, before looking to dangerous opioids as an answer.
5 Potentially Dangerous Complications and Side Effects of Using Opioids for Pain Management
Opioid use has been widely documented as having averse hormonal effects on men and women alike. This includes an imbalance in levels of testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol among many others necessary to overall health and wellness. As you may know, hormonal imbalances can lead to sexual dysfunction, depression, and low energy levels – all of which will have a significant negative impact on your social, family, and professional life.
Sedation and Drowsiness
Another proven side effect is rooted in the anticholinergic activity of opioids that leaves users with a zombie-like persona. In other words, opioid use is directly linked to sedation and drowsiness. Of course, proponents of opioids are quick to prescribe (literally) an answer to this – psychosomatic stimulants such as methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine among others. You be the judge – does peppering problematic opioid use with further prescriptions and/or OTC medications sound like a good plan?
For many, we need to say no more. But alas opioids can be a pain in the a$$ as constipation is in fact one of the most common side effects of use. Pro-opioid people (associated pharmaceutical reps, street level drugs dealers, shareholders, etc.) like to dismiss this as a trivial complication, but when you consider the fact that chronic constipation is linked to the formation of hemorrhoids, rectal pain and burning, bowel obstruction, and potential bowel rupture and death, things don’t sound so trivial after all. It’s also important to note that there are other opioid-induced problems “down there”, including bladder dysfunction.
Increased Pain Sensitivity
Let’s get this straight, the drug being prescribed to manage pain can actually make you more sensitive to pain? Damn right. Hyperalgesia is an enhanced pain response that comes with opioid use. While the drug temporarily masks pain felt from an acute or chronic injury, you will eventually become more sensitive to pain, which can lead to increased use of opioids, creating an extremely vicious cycle. It’s no wonder opioid pushers love this drug so much – it creates customers for life, although that life may not be a long one. Keep reading.
Dependency and Death
If death and taxes are a certainty then you may was well add opioids to that statement to boot. It is very well documented and highly publicized that opioid users quickly develop a physical and emotional dependency on the various strains of the drug. If they can continue to financially support their prescription, they do. If not, they turn to its death-kissing cousin – heroine. Dependency on either comes with abuse, and you know what the math looks like from there on in – ergo the proven data on the opioid related deaths across Canada and the entire world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that overdose deaths contribute to between roughly a third and a half of all drug-related deaths on the planet, and in most cases they state that opioids are directly to blame. At press, six major opioid manufacturers are facing lawsuits, so hopefully we’re witnessing a turning of the tide. Hopefully it won’t take more victims like Elliot Eurchuk to finally rid the world of the epidemic.
Tidbit: the word “opioid” is derived from the word “opium”
We already know why despite information about dangerous side effects people continue to use opioids –they have been manufactured to be addictive. But why on earth anyone would start using opioids with all that we know today is baffling. Or perhaps it isn’t, because living with pain is also an unbearable thought for many. If you have not yet turned to regular physiotherapy for pain management, you have not given yourself your best shot at living a highly functioning life. Kick the potential for opioid complications (and death) to the curb by consulting with a physiotherapist for acute and chronic pain management. Contact us today.
Other sources: Opioid Complications and Side Effects
Related article: Physiotherapy vs Opioids