The Sacramento Opioid Awareness Summit took place at Sacramento State University on September 12, 2018. The speakers at the conference included city, county, state and national law enforcement and health officials.
The clear message was that opioid prescriptions in Sacramento County and California had decreased by about 12% but there was still more work to be done. The presenters reminded us that while the United States represents only about 5% of the world’s population, it consumes more than 80% of all opioids. The conclusion was that opioids are dangerous, and they usually cause more problems than they solve.
The following statistics were presented by the Sacramento County Opioid Coalition: There were 1,882 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 in California. There were more than 21 million opioid prescriptions in California in 2017. There were 4,281 opioid overdose ER visits in 2017 in California.
National statistics were equally alarming: On average 116 people died every day from opioid related drug overdose in 2016. The opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. $504 billion.
The take home from the Summit was that the dangers of opioids continue to be underestimated. While many users of opioids believe that overdoses will not happen to them, the data suggests that it can happen to anyone. The higher the dose of opioids, the greater the risk of death.
The rational approach to this problem is to reduce opioid doses or completely wean off the opioids. Your health care providers can help you find more effective and safer options. There are many alternatives to opioids. These alternatives include but are not limited to physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness therapy, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, electric stimulation devices, braces, laser therapy (photobiomodulation), spinal injections, trigger point therapy, spinal decompression, spinal cord stimulation and surgery. There are many healthcare providers who are ready and willing to help find other ways to reduce pain and improve function. The ultimate commitment, however, will need to come from the patient who is on opioids. They must have the desire and will to reduce their dose of opioids and/or wean off the opioids.