The Opioid Epidemic

“More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled,2 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.3,4 Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.5″

The previous two paragraphs were taken directly from the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What I find concerning is the lack of foresight by the CDC in regards to preventing opioid use. Health care in the US needs to embark on a path where there is more collaboration between health care providers, especially between chiropractors and MDs. Other countries have adopted this model with great success such as Switzerland and Denmark.

So where do we start or how do we go about this? I believe there is a knowledge gap in the medical profession between what MDs think chiropractors do and what chiropractors actually do. At Dynamic Sports Chiropractic we request permission from every patient whether we can share our exam findings and treatment plan with their primary care provider. If every chiropractic clinic takes this initiative collaboration between chiropractors and other primary care providers will naturally happen without waiting for answers from legislation or large entities like the American Medical Association. I believe going in this direction will lead us towards a path of less opioid use and addiction, and consequently less drug overdose deaths.

Best in Health,

Dr. Shawn Halvorson

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014. MMWR 2015; 64;1-5.
  2. CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
  3. Chang H, Daubresse M, Kruszewski S, et al. Prevalence and treatment of pain in emergency departments in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Amer J of Emergency Med 2014; 32(5): 421-31.
  4. Daubresse M, Chang H, Yu Y, Viswanathan S, et al. Ambulatory diagnosis and treatment of nonmalignant pain in the United States, 2000 – 2010.  Medical Care 2013; 51(10): 870-878.
  5. CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov
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