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Overdoses Now Leading Cause of Death of Americans Under 50

In chilling but not surprising news, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50, killing in excess of 59,000 in 2016 alone, The New York Times reports. The Times attributed the death count to the opioid epidemic, which is compounded by illicit fentanyl.

Overall, drug overdoses are the ninth leading cause of death, with 63 percent due to opioids. Addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain; 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription. What’s most shocking, however, is that according to the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes.

If you’ve ever smoked yourself or know someone who’s tried to quit, you are very much aware of how difficult quitting can be. But if you think that’s hard, those who have had to withdraw from opioids say that it is physical and mental torture equal to a “hell on Earth.”

And if you think it can’t happen to you: Think again. It can happen to anyone. Opioids are that addictive. So, what do you do if you are prescribed opioids? First, have a conversation with your doctor to make sure you seriously need them. Clearly, there are times when pain is so severe that a narcotic pain reliever may be warranted, for example, for people with cancer or those who are recovering from a surgery. But if you are in pain that is bearable, try the following options first.

  1. Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from diet, as these substances can contribute to inflammation in your body, which can exacerbate pain
  2. Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement such as krill oil, which can mediate inflammation-making prostaglandins
  3. Optimize your vitamin D by getting plenty of sunshine
  4. Try Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which are drug-free approaches to pain management
  5. Consider chiropractic treatment, which has been shown to help with pain in certain musculoskeletal disorders, or try physical therapy and massage, which can target tight or painful muscles
  6. Supplements such as astaxanthin, ginger, curcumin and boswellia also have known anti-inflammatory properties that may help with pain
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