In 1971, President Nixon declared a war on drugs. Unfortunately for our country, that war was limited to illicit drugs. For the next several decades, drug overdose deaths were largely attributable to these drugs. However, beginning just after this century, these statistics began to take a scary turn.
In this recent report from the CDC’s report looking at data in Florida from 2003-2009, the numbers of drug overdose deaths increased 61%. NONE of this increase was from cocaine or heroin.
The death rate for prescription drugs increased 84.2%, with the greatest increase from oxycodone (264.6%), followed by alprazolam (233.8%) and methadone (79.2%).
By 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs. Four times. Were exactly is the “war on drugs” when it comes to prescription medications? Glaringly absent.
Notice that these drugs are primarily used for pain control. While some cases may be for intractable pain from situations like cancer, pancreatitis or kidney stones, I frequently see patients coming into my office on Oxycodone for a condition that would’ve been gone had they seen a chiropractor first.
So long as mainstream medical providers like PCPs, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and physiatrists are seen as the first point of entry for musculoskeletal complaints, the risk of getting drugs prescribed and aggressive procedures performed will remain high. In general, for at least one of the larger insurers in the US, chiropractors provide about a 30% cost savings when they are seen first.
Other studies confirm that imaging, surgery and, most importantly for this study, pain medication use are much lower under chiropractic care.