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Sewers Show the Unexpected Scope of the US’ Illegal Drug Problem

Studies show the sewers of America are swirling in secrets that indicate the U.S. has an opiate drug problem that goes beyond previous estimates. Not only that, according to researchers who measured drug concentrations in two Kentucky community sewer systems, methamphetamine use may be as much as four times higher than federal estimates. Interestingly, special events, like the Fourth of July, seem to make people more likely to use drugs, Newsy said.

There’s no question that America has a drug problem. It’s something we’re reminded of daily, almost hourly, as reports of overdoses and deaths hit the news. One point worth mentioning is that while opioids are responsible for nearly two-thirds of these deaths, benzodiazepine (“benzos”) overdoses are also on the rise.

Prescriptions for benzos, whose brand names include Valium, Ativan, Klonopin and Xanax, tripled from 1996 through 2013, with overdoses quadrupling during that time, indicating people are using them in a riskier way than ever before. And when these drugs are used to meet addiction problems or “recreationally,” records show that opioids are often used alongside the benzos to increase the “high” users seek.

People most at risk of developing painkiller dependence are those who have used them more frequently, for example, for chronic pain; or who have a prior history of substance abuse; or who are less able to cope with pain — and therefore more likely to rely on drugs to help them.

It goes without saying that many of those addicted to painkillers and benzos (which often are prescribed as a companion drug to opioids) don’t start taking them with the intention of becoming addicted. Rather, they find it takes increasing amounts to address pain such as unrelenting, chronic back pain. But what can you do if you’re in this situation? Often, patients with pain are surprised to learn there are a number of alternative, nondrug solutions to try before opioids or benzos, including:

  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which borrows from the principles of acupuncture and stimulates well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
  • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties.
  • Curcumin, which blocks inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Krill Oil: The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have been found by many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for pain.
  • Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
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