3 Natural Alternatives to Opioids

3 Natural Alternatives to Opioids

Whenever chronic or acute pain comes up as an issue, prescription painkillers (most commonly opioids) tend be brought in as the primary solution. Opioids may help as a solution in the short term, but they open the door for addiction and dependency problems down the road. If you are dealing with a great deal of pain yourself, it might be a wise idea to look into one of these alternatives before making that jump. It could be the difference between you overcoming your pain in a healthy, natural way and replacing your pain with a more harmful opioid addiction.

Exercise

When experiencing severe pain, you may not even want to get out of bed due to the discomfort. The thought of going to the gym may seem counterproductive, but motivating yourself to get out and go to the gym will be worth it. Research shows that working on flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and overall strength improves your body’s pain threshold. That means that it will take you more pain to feel the same level of discomfort you were feeling before.

Intense cardiovascular exercises such as running and brisk walking also raise a number of natural endorphins that the body releases. Endorphins react with the brain in a way similar to opioid drugs such as morphine. Exercise also increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, bringing a natural, pain-relieving effect. These chemicals not only provide temporary pain relief, they also elevate mood and provide a feeling of satisfaction, making it easier to mentally cope with the pain.

Meditation

Pain has long been viewed as a strictly physical problem, which has only made the use of prescription painkillers that much more popular. Lately, however, there has been a shift to view pain as a mental state as well. This perspective has led to the rise of meditation as a way to manage pain. Meditation promotes concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity through an open attitude and a focus on attention.

One of the best parts about using meditation is that it relieves pain while bypassing opioid receptors. In fact, meditation has become so popular that many faith-based drug rehab centers have used it as a way to help opioid abusers handle their pain management issues naturally. Meditation brings many other health benefits that can help offset pain and opioid addiction, including strengthening the immune system, reducing stress, and lowering inflammation.

Therapy

People who are dealing with chronic pain often feel depressed and hopeless. While pills may seem like an easy way out in the short term, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to suppress these feelings without pills. The focus of the therapy is to help the patient identify negative thoughts and feelings and come up with ways to approach and handle these feelings.

Instead of looking at the pain as a problem that will haunt the patient forever, therapy can help create a more realistic view of the situation. When practiced correctly, CBT helps patients become more confident and capable of overcoming their pain from a mental perspective.

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/armydre2008/5517839272

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About the Author

Connor Hayes
Connor Hayes is a freelance writer from Rochester Hills, Michigan. He is currently focusing on writing about health and addiction. In his free time, Connor loves watching his local Detroit and Michigan State sports teams.