John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

How do opioids impact your community?

How do opioids impact your community?

Several pills rest in a pile on a table.

This past Friday while watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, she highlighted a recent story that came out in the Washington Post titled “Drilling into the DEA’s Pain Pill Database.” I knew the epidemic was a big problem in our country but didn’t quite have a grasp on its magnitude.

For all pain pills prescribed from 2006-2012 (stats currently public) in the US that would be enough for 36 pills per person per year. And by doing a search on my county in rural Tennessee that number jumps up to 106 pills per person per year. The database also reveals which drug manufacturer supplied pills to that county as well as the top 5 pharmacies that filled these prescriptions. Keep in mind that this data is prescribed pills, not the illegal ones.

Here is some of that information on my county.

Lots of information to digest… and then what about the root cause? Why are we in such need of our pain medication? I’m certain there’s a lot of legitimacy to some of these prescriptions, but for the others are we as a country and society just not able to take pain? Are there other ways to cope and manage this? Couple things came to mind while in a discussion with my wife who’s in the psychology field. How do or can diet, physical activity, finances and therapy play into the healing from this pain? I’m not sure what, or if any, research has been done but it’s definitely worth exploring.

  • Diet – How are the foods a person is eating hindering or helping healing? Fresh vs. processed?
  • Physical activity – No doubt about it the more you move, the better you feel both physically and mentally.
  • Finances – Are you strapped for cash and have mountains of debt? Is this causing undue stress on every situation?
  • Therapy – I’m a firm believer in talk therapy and it has helped me through healing on several occasions in my life.

Based on the four above items (diet, physical activity, finances and therapy) are there actions that can be taken to move these in a positive direction? Talk with someone about diet or finances and get a jump-start and to feeling better.

Through trainings at my fire department and ongoing learning about opioids, we have addressed the warning signs and symptoms of someone addicted but what can we all do to help get at the root cause of pain to hopefully reduce the number of opioids prescribed. And as a fire hall we can organize community outreach and education with professionals delivering the message. We can also gather community members to address this together as we’re all impacted.

If you, your community or someone you know needs some assistance you can start at the US Health Resources & Service Administration, as they are a wealth of knowledge.

I’m writing this now as this has been on my mind a lot over the past couple days and I keep coming back to what I can do as a member of the community and as an officer in our volunteer fire department. The above are more thoughts rather than answers but I’m sure as time goes on some solutions will emerge.

Thanks for listening and for keeping this epidemic in your mind. Be safe.

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