Addiction to pain killers, the rise of opioids

Addiction to pain killers, the rise of opioids

Addiction to pain killers, the rise of opioids

In our bodies, deep within, we all know Love and divinity, yet our model of life is not set up to nurture this fact. Instead, many people feel despondent and given up with life; unable to cope they cry out for help in a system that often answers them back with a cold and heartless reply.

We do not have to look too far to realise that much of the world has a worldwide pain problem, and how we deal with that pain, whether emotional or physical, has led us to a much bigger problem.

Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States between May 2019 and May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period[1]. (CDC) Synthetic opioids appear to be the primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths, increasing 38.4 percent from the 12-month period leading up to June 2019 compared with the 12-month period leading up to May 2020[1]. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies took advantage of the demand of the millions and millions of adults suffering from chronic pain. Through a big marketing campaign, pharmaceutical companies encouraged doctors to prescribe painkiller products in their masses, despite the evidence that the use of opioids for treating long-term chronic pain was very weak, and also that evidence suggests that opioids cause harm in the long term, although they can be effective for short-term, acute pain.

One of these opioids[2] is Fentanyl, which is the strongest opioid approved for medical use and is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin[3].

Fentanyl came into the media spotlight when an autopsy report from the Medical Examiner's Office of Minnesota declared that the pop icon Prince, at age 57 died from an apparently self-administered dose of Fentanyl. This incident may have brought it to our attention globally, but for many it is an everyday problem. Many countries around the world are reporting problems with opioids, and with America looking to address what it calls the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history, getting to the root cause of this addiction and looking at why there is such a demand is crucial if we want to see any true change.

In 2016 alone, drug overdoses killed more Americans in one year than the entire Vietnam War[4]. And with approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11 every three weeks[5].

Tragically in 2016, there were more than 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada, which has increased pressure on the country’s healthcare systems – “This is a major public health crisis in Canada” Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer[6]. Even now with the reduction of prescription painkillers, many people are still addicted.

Taking away access to painkillers for those already addicted is not the solution and could lead to them searching out more deadly opioids. That's why it is imperative that a sensitive approach is taken.

The opioid epidemic is not limited to a particular country or demographic – it affects the wealthy, the poor, the young and the old across the world. Education and awareness are desperately needed for both the medical practitioners and the painkiller consumers to stop the misuse of opioids, as opioids carry considerable risks and uncertain benefits, especially when compared with other treatments for chronic pain[8]. Roughly 21 - 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them[11] and about 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids[12]. Prescription pain relief is causing a world-wide crisis that affects not just public health, but also social and economic welfare. The opioid problem is already out of control and unless we look to the root cause of why we need to knock ourselves out, the problem looks set to get worse, unravelling entire families and communities as it does so.

A kilogram of Fentanyl is now so much more lucrative for a dealer than a kilogram of heroin, and Mexican drug cartels are switching from heroin to Fentanyl because of the need and the high-profit margin[9].

Tougher penalties and sentencing laws have shown that they do not work in the fight against drugs. The incarceration approach has been around for years and it hasn’t stopped the current crisis. The latest addition to the opioid epidemic is an elephant tranquilizer – a substance that is 100 times more potent than the drug that killed Prince[10]. It seems there is no end to the extent some will go to not have to feel the pain of daily life, and some have experienced such trauma that it is the only way they know how to get through the day.

As a society we are quick to cast the dealer as evil and yet if we are to make any real progress, we need to look at the demand and why so many people are needing opioids.

What is it that allows us to continue taking something well past its true use, e.g. after a period of acute pain, why do we continue to use it? Is the demand so great because we have millions of people world-wide living less than what they truly know themselves to be, disconnected from the divinity they truly are?

We are all made of love, God’s love, and when we don’t live this love, it hurts. Could the pain of missing our true selves be too much for many? Could it be that when we tap into the inherent love we are, it is easier for us to not live with addiction?

Re-examining how we deal with pain, looking at the way we live and the way we interact with one and other, considering what true support is out there in our communities are all beginning steps of dealing with such staggering statistics.

Taking a pill for pain that is immediate is one thing. Taking a pill to continuously not deal with life is something different.

If we deal with the demand as to why there a need, supply naturally gets taken care of. Could it be as a world-wide society we are simply not realising the true value of who we truly are; we are not living to the standards each and every one of us deserves?

We are all super sensitive to life, so much more than our current education system allows for. Life as we know it does not allow for our unique sensitivity. So instead of honoring our own delicateness, our divinity from birth, we find ourselves in a world that can feel loveless and brutal.

We are not brought up to honor the love, the delicateness and divinity we all are within, and from missing our true selves we develop behaviours that seek to numb and bludgeon our sensitivity so we don’t feel how far away we are living from that amazing love we truly are.

We have to re-examine the way we're treating pain and look at the root source, not just the symptoms.

When we do look within and are willing to feel the love we truly are, profound healing can occur. In a world full of so-called solutions from Big Pharma we should never underestimate the healing power of self-love and connection. It can be simple when we connect to our true selves, we give ourselves the space needed to heal, recover, repair and get to the root of what is really going on.

It is in deep connection with ourselves that we can begin to let go of negative behaviours and patterns and step by step allow the soul to lead the way to true healing.


  • [1]

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Coronavirus Disease 2019. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 January 2021].

  • [2]

    Zee AV. The promotion and marketing of OxyContin: commercial triumph, public health tragedy. Am J Public Health 2009;99:221–227

  • [3]

    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2016). Fentanyl: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Emergency Responders. Retrieved from

  • [4]

  • [5]

    Trump Urged To Declare National Emergency Over Opioid Crisis. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed January 2021].

  • [6]

  • [7]

  • [8]

  • [9]

  • [10]

  • [11]

    Liang Y, Turner BJ. Assessing risk for drug overdose in a national cohort: Role for both daily and total opioid dose? J Pain. Apr 2015;16(4):318-325.

  • [12]

Filed under

Addiction Back painDrugsMedicinePain

  • Photography: Steve Matson, Electrical Engineer, Chef, Photographer, Forklift operator and student of life.

    I am someone that looks at something that is complicated and sees the simplicity behind it. Life needs to be fun and lived. Making mistakes is an important part of this process.