A Better Solution to Pain Management: The Opioid Crisis in 2024

Since 2001, the United States has been undergoing an increase in opioid usage that has resulted in concern for public health overall as well as being a potential contributor to opioid misuse, harm, and overdose (1). The decrease of opioid usage has continued to be a theme in medical literature since then however, even now, many people still receive opioids either unnecessarily or in excess for pain management. On average, more than 40 people die daily from prescription opioid overdose and since 1999 there have been over 165,000 deaths as a result (2).

The Impact of Opioids on Public Health

The first thing to understand is exactly what qualifies as an opioid. Regardless of whether the drug was made from the naturally growing opium plant or manufactured in a lab, all opioids have similar chemical structures and will function effectively the same. One common misconception when it comes to prescription opioids is that they are safe just because they are obtained through a doctor. However, this is not the case, even opioids that have been prescribed by healthcare professionals carry a rather large risk, even when used appropriately. 

Understanding Opioid Dependency

The way that opioids work for pain relief is that they act as pain blockers and release large amounts of dopamine into the system (3). Dopamine is one of the major hormones that is associated with pleasure and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, so when used for a long period of time or in high doses, patients can become dependent upon that drug for satisfaction of any kind. In fact, one of the most commonly known, wide-spread opioids is Heroin. While prescription opioids can be used for positive reasons, they can also be equally as addictive and dangerous if misused.  

Types of Public Health Crises

Public health crises can come in one of two forms: 

  • Naturally Occurring Diseases 
  • Byproduct of Medical Care (4) 

The opioid crisis falls in the latter category. In 2013 alone, 249 million opioid pain medication prescriptions were written by healthcare providers. So despite the CDC recommending that opioids should never be the first line of therapy for pain management, this is actually what we see more often than not. 

Exploring Alternative Pain Management

Instead, the CDC recommends looking at other treatment options first such as physical therapies, non-opioid pain medications like NSAIDs (5), or even alternative methods such as acupuncture (6). However, there have also been considerable advancements in the field of electrostimulation as a drug-free pain management option. 

Introducing ARPwave NeuroTherapy

Specifically, ARPwave has a wide variety of NeuroTherapy options that not only tout a 25% improvement in symptoms each session, but also have a reputation for creating an environment ideal for true healing. This NeuroTherapy utilizes the body’s natural tendencies toward neuroplasticity (read more about this concept here) and the mechanisms it already has built into place for true recovery to not only reduce pain short term, but also encourage healing long term. 

Opioids can be incredibly dangerous, especially when not used as prescribed. Further, the way that they function effectively sets them up to be highly addictive and therefore misused. For more information about a drug-free, safer option to pain management and healing, set up an appointment with one of the ARPwave therapists today. 

Article References

Inappropriate opioid prescription after surgery 


CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain 


Prescription Opioids DrugFacts 


Overprescribing is a major contributor to opioid crisis 


Alternatives to Opioids for Managing Pain 


Non-Opioid Treatment 


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