Overcoming Opioid Dependency


By Jann Garitty

Chronic pain impacts enormously the lives of countless people in the United States. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH):
Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months (variously defined as 3 to 6 months, but longer than “normal healing”). It’s a very common problem. Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey show that:

  • About 25.3 million U.S. adults (11.2 percent) had pain every day for the previous 3 months.
  • Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) had severe pain.
  • Individuals with severe pain had worse health, used more health care, and had more disability than those with less severe pain.

More about the prevalence of chronic pain can be read at the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Chronic Pain Statistics: Facts, Figures and Research

Traditional medicine often prescribes opioid medications to treat short-term and chronic pain issues.

However, in recent years, there has been an epidemic misuse of and addiction to opioid medications. The Recovery Village website reports, “The most commonly abused prescription drug is the opioid pain reliever.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians website explains that opioids are used to relieve pain by lowering the number of pain signals the body sends to the brain. They also change how the brain responds to pain by creating artificial endorphins. However, if misused, they can become addictive, as the euphoric effects causes one to want to keep using the drug.

To complicate matters further, Dr. Catherine Browne, author of Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency, notes that there is mounting evidence that pharmaceutical companies misinformed medical doctors saying that opioid pain medications were not addictive. States have begun suing those companies for providing false information. Read more here.

Dr. Browne writes on her website, “My patients are also often shocked to find that the opioid pain medications had masked their pain symptoms and that the pain returned after stopping opioids. This is because opioids do not heal the body. … However, acupuncture and herbs do contribute to true healing of the body by addressing the root causes of pain. Additionally, they are incredibly effective at alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal.”

Watch and listen to a TED talk by Travis Rieder, The agony of opioid withdrawal — and what doctors should tell patients about it.

Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency gives an overview of the treatment modalities used by Dr. Browne for recovering from addiction to opioids and managing withdrawal symptoms, rebuilding health and managing pain.
The argument for utilizing natural therapies includes the following:

  • Relapse rates for opioid users receiving traditional treatment are extremely high illuminating the fact that those treatments are not successful.

  • Natural therapies are proving to be successful in clinical treatment programs.

  • Natural therapies are effective and address underlying causes of ill-health, they are restorative, and have few or no side-effects. They are cost effective and are not addicting. Natural therapies also are helpful with withdrawal symptoms from the use of opioids and afterwards can help restore health, vitality and help manage pain symptoms.

Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency focuses on Traditional Chinese Medicine primarily because of Dr. Browne’s background and training, though she also utilizes herbal medicine and mindfulness meditation with her patients.

This is an excellent protocol for treatment offering hope for recovery from opioid addiction, and restoring balance and health. However, Dr. Brown also notes that natural therapies often must be accompanied by medical support and/or counseling.

Included in the natural therapies outlined in the book is the use of flower essences. Dr. Browne, over the course of her practice, has identified five flower essences, Agrimony, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud, Walnut and Wild Rose, which combined together, she calls a “flower essence blend for opioid recovery.” She recommends that the formula be sprayed on the body, particularly on acupoints which she lists and identifies in the book. She specifically defines the indications for each of the flower essences and points referenced.

Read an essay written by Dr. Browne regarding the use of flower essences for opioid addiction recovery.

Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency
Table of Contents

Part 1: Natural Therapies to Combat Addiction

Opioid Dependency: A Breakdown
Chinese Medicine: Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit
Acupuncture and Acupressure: Clearing Blockages and Stagnation
Herbs: Powerful Plant Medicines to Drive Recovery
Essential Oils and Flower Essences: Therapeutic Support for Body and Spirit
Nutrition and Supplements: Rebuilding the Body’s Reserves

Part 2: Protocols for Treatment

Basic Protocols: Treating Addiction by Correcting Elemental Imbalances
Withdrawal: Managing Symptoms
Pain: Using Natural Therapies in Place of Narcotics
Health Problems: Addressing the Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use

About Dr. Catherine Browne, DAOM, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., RH (AHG)

Dr. Catherine Browne is the author of Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency. She has more than 30 years’ experience using natural therapies for treating pain and addiction. She holds a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a board-certified acupuncturist and registered professional herbalist. She is the founder of In Harmony Wellness Clinic, where she specializes in serving U.S. veterans, and lives in Hamptonville, North Carolina. Visit her website. Buy the book.

Additional resources

American Addiction Centers Resources

Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Drug Addiction

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


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