My Medication Needs Medication! (The Search for Natural Chronic Pain Relief)
Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare with cold sweats and my heart racing. It takes a few uncomfortable moments to catch my breath as I think back on the dream that ruined a perfectly good night’s sleep. Then the chronic pain says hello.
Now instead of falling back to sleep, my mind is racing with thoughts of pain medication. Should I take an extra dose? Will that keep me from falling asleep (or cause me to oversleep)? Can I manage without it? Is it safe to add another medication to counteract the side effects of the first one?
The idea of taking extra medications – and how they interact with all the different and complicated parts of the body – causes my mind to swirl. I don’t have an advanced medical degree, but I know from experience that the intricacies of the body mixed with medication (especially multiple medications) creates a quagmire of potential problems, allergies, and side effects.
A Familiar Story
Imagine this, you struggle with severe depression. Your doctor eventually prescribes Zoloft. We may have once laughed at the end of pharmaceutical commercials when the voice actor somehow speeds through the outrageous list of warnings and disclaimers. But now that we need that medication, the side effects can actually be quite terrifying.
Despite the undesirable side effects, you start your Zoloft regimen. And shortly after beginning you find that your depression has become more manageable. However, you also notice that your gut has become shifty, and sleep has become more difficult. At first you’re tempted to think these symptoms aren’t related. But when they begin to worsen, you go back to your doctor.
After hearing about these new symptoms, she suggests you adjust your diet and increase your exercise. Because your depression is responding well to the Zoloft, your doctor continues to prescribe it. All the while, even with a modified lifestyle, your stomach cramps worsen and your sleep is still inconsistent. This affects your mood, ability to function at work, and even your relationships.
Desperate to get your life back in order, you return to your doctor. Finally, she is convinced that your intestinal and sleep problems require something other than a diet change.
Except your doctor tells you to take Imodium to control the stomach problems and Xanax to help you sleep. On the plus side, your depression, stomach problems, and difficulty sleeping all seem manageable for the first time in months – or even years. Then it dawns on you: in a matter of weeks you’ve added three different medications to your daily routine, and it seems like you might be stuck with them for the long haul.
Can you afford this much medication?
And what about the repercussions of using these additional drugs long-term?
Side Effects & Interactions of Multiple Medications
Every prescription medication – even common options like Zoloft and Xanax – has the potential for unwanted side effects or interactions with other medications. And using any drug long-term could lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and long-term health issues.
Using Imodium long-term, for example, has the potential to contribute to both heart and lung issues. Likewise, Xanax is habit forming and could lead to overuse, overdose, and even death.
When used correctly, these medications may help you keep your life together. But in conjunction with other prescriptions – or when taken over a long period of time – you risk more severe side effects and health risks.
Like so many medication users, you’re left with a difficult choice. Do you take the prescriptions you need to feel better in the short-term? Or do you work with your doctor to reduce your reliance on medication (knowing it may leave you feeling worse)?
This might seem like a worst-case scenario, but the situation is surprisingly common. All of these drugs – and many others – are commonly prescribed, these side effects aren’t outlandish, and many doctors try to alleviate side effects with more medication rather than less.
All of this is to say that many people are coming to the conclusion that another prescription isn’t what they need. Instead, they’re searching for natural relief to help manage their chronic pain, anxiety, or depression.
Whatever it is that’s ailing you, take the time to explore other options, especially when it comes to adding new drugs to your life. In some cases, you may find that the solution isn’t another prescription at all, but something as simple, natural, and inexpensive as adding CBD to your daily routine.