Wednesday, May 18, 2016

An Inside Look at Opioid Addiction, From an Ex Addict, by Dr. Allen S Miller

I am a subject matter expert on Opioid addiction as I was an Opioid addict. Because of this experience, a large workers compensation insurance company approached me to bring my protocols & products to support Opioid withdrawal and introduce Cannabis as an alternative to Opioids in injury management. In these discussions, I have realized there are significant misunderstandings when it comes to the face of Opioid addiction.
1996 Olympic Village, Atlanta GA
I am a Chiropractor, with a specialty in Sports Medicine, Industrial Medicine, and I am recognized in 9 states a forensic soft tissue injury expert. I mention this as I am not the visual you expect of Opioid addicts. I am a true type A personality and have led what some would call an amazing life.

I played baseball and football in High School, with moderate success, as frankly, I just didn't see the point to all the work. I was recruited to the LAPD at the age of 17, my father was an LAPD officer and being the son of a high-profile officer, it was thought that I would be a great fit for the department. During that same time, I was recommended and hired by then television star Dinah Shore as her personal security bodyguard and worked for her for several years.  Through that relationship I was referred other jobs to either right wrongs or reduce conflicts. This was a contact sport on every level and I suffered numerous injuries, broken bones throughout this stage of my working life. It culminated when I was protecting Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. A young man high on PCP jumped on stage to get to Jerry. A fight followed and I was the one left standing with a knife wound in my back
Nigerian Olympic Track & Field Team 

several broken bones.  This was the first act, so the roadies gave me Percodan so I could finish the night. When I went to the doctor, I was immediately hospitalized where surgery followed, and I was, of course, prescribed Vicodin for pain. This was great as it enabled me to still work at the same expected level, without the inconvenience of pain; dysfunction. I enrolled in Chiropractic College, attended school during the day and acted as security for the owners of Herbalife at night, which continued for four years. Immediately following graduation, I traveled internationally for 10 years in Africa and Europe with Olympic Track and Field teams and was the Team Physician at the 1992 & 1996 Olympic. I was an avid horseman and competed in several equestrian sports, which led to breaking almost every bone in my body.

Team Penning 1988
 Because of the succession of injuries, I really never cycled off the drugs. I was up to 12 Vicodin a day to cope with the physical hindrance of chronic pain, and the restrictions that resulted. I always looked at my body as adventure suit, a tool, and a vehicle to compete.

All African Games Chiro, Egypt
The reason I give you this past history is that I want you to see the mentality of Opioid addiction. I never got "high" from Opioids; they provided me with an absence of pain. This absence of pain enabled me to work at the same level, without the debilitating effect of the injuries. Opioids enabled me to physically keep up with my brain, my desires and of course my lifestyle. Remember health takes a back seat to lifestyle and survival. Opioids made me a superhero; I could outwork anybody, and overcome significant physical barriers to accomplishing the mission at hand. The most important concept, I never took Opioids to combat pain; I took them to prevent pain from inhibiting my physical requirements, regardless of what they were. I pushed physical boundaries, and of course suffered more injuries, resulting in increased Opioid intake. This is the vicious circle of driven people with pain.

This habit continued for a few decades, then a terrible thing happened, my doctors, because of public scrutiny, could not prescribe this level of pain meds anymore, and I had to cycle off.  I looked to using Cannabis as a vehicle to beat Opioid addiction and found it exhausting. When I sought information I got advice from people that had no idea of the intricacies of Opioid addiction. These "experts" thought that the Opioids were used to "zone out", not function, and escape reality. To the contrary I used them to function in my fast paced world.  I found very quickly that there were no organize methods to eliminate the Opioid use, with Cannabis. I tried everything from Edibles to Vapes, to Oils, CBD, THC, everything, and nothing worked to recreate the abilities that I could perform on Opioids.  

This is an important concept; I am physically limited by numerous injuries, arthritis, nerve damage to frostbite, etc. but desire to work at the same level I have always worked. As my physical abilities decreased, I utilized more Opioids to fill the gap. After trying the traditional medical model for pain management, I found one thing glaringly clear, they don't have a clue on how we view or use Opioids.

What I discovered through my own experience is there are three parts to Opioid addiction and they must be addressed to fully eliminate them from use. The first
consideration, pain, Cannabis is great in eliminating physical pain. However, it slows you down, relaxes you,  and that’s just great! Not for me, I need to run at 100%, it was the pain that disabled me it was the physical limitations that caused pain. The body tries to protect you when you're injured, it reduces your ability to move, walk etc. all those things you need to play the game. Which brings me to the second consideration in Opioid addiction, adrenalin. As stated, most Cannabis kills the pain but slows you down; I can't have that I need to run full speed. So I had to find another "natural" cannabis and natural solutions to perk me up so I could run at the same speed that I thought I needed to not just survive, but also excel. I sought solutions from two sources; the first source was MaGooch Cannabis infused olive oil Their product, “Gravity Lock” killed the pain without slowing me down. The second solution came from Dr. Stephanie King, DC of Dedicated to Health Medical Group, in Pasadena CA formulated nutraceuticals that increased my energy levels to the same levels as the Opioids I ingested.

The third consideration is fear of pain, this is important, because people like me, other weekend warriors, the walking wounded in the business community, are scared to death they will look anything other than strong. Why the weak are killed and eaten, or worse loose the fail. We are alphas, we are the leaders, we are paranoid, we are injured, and we revel in the mystique, we do things that others wouldn't dare.

The significant problem with the natural approach Opioid withdrawal is time. Opioids work fast, if impaired I can be up and operational within the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. It took me 6-8 months of cycling off Opioids and introducing Cannabis and Nutraceuticals to my regime, which was an eternity to me to reach my perceived level of work. Remember, my biggest fear is that I will not be able to function and looked upon as weak. This is significant fear, our job is our identity, our strength, and it reinforces our ability to succeed. This has to be replicated in Opioid addiction, and the patient has to be supported and reinforced in this process. As I learned, the patient must learn to re-trust their body, trust it won't fail, and they will be able to compete as well as succeed in their lives.

In conclusion, I never got "high" from taking Opioids; I enjoyed a lack of pain and limitation. I took Opioids as a preventative to pain, I never took them after I got the pain, and I took them so I wouldn't feel the pain. To effectuate Opioid withdrawal, there are multiple natural and prescription products that will allow the patient to let go of their Opioid dependence.

So the three things that has to be considered in eliminating Opioid use,

1. Pain is secondary to dysfunction, so eliminate the pain. Cannabis is great for this part of the equation. The physical dysfunction must be addressed and treated.
2. Depending on the number of injuries, injury severity, there is usually a form of associated neurologic damage that must be addressed. This is sometimes misdiagnosed as a sleep disorder, yes sleep is a factor but is most likely related to symptom related complexes such as restless leg syndrome, referral pain etc.
3. Implement Natural remedies or Pharmaceuticals to increase the patient's "energy" to be competitive, it's an important element in the equation. This is imperative or the treatment won't result in a withdrawal from Opioid use.
4. Counseling is imperative to stay consistent with the patients' ability to assimilate into his world and succeed. Micro changes in diet, exercise, nutraceuticals, and prescription meds must be monitored for the first 6-8 months to micro manage success.

The limiting factor in this equation is ease of use. Opioids and other prescription meds are easy to use; in most cases one pill will do the trick. When shifting to a natural non-prescription model, it takes time, trial and error in finding the right combination of nutraceuticals, CBD or Cannabis and proper nutrition and lifestyle. It can be achieved and has to be micromanaged for the patients benefit.

Dr. Allen Miller now council’s patients, industry, and insurance companies on Opiate addiction, and the substitution of Cannabis and other nutraceuticals for Opioids in acute injury management.