Are You Predisposed to Opioid Addiction?

In the US, there is an epidemic of painkiller and heroin addiction. One biotech company is developing a DNA test that can identify if you are predisposed to opioid addiction.

Pain-Relief Medicinal Risks

When using medication for pain, there is an assortment of side effects that can develop. Too much ibuprofen can cause rashes and stomach bleeding. Too much acetaminophen (especially if taken with alcohol) can cause liver damage. And these are over-the-counter medicines.

Doctors often prescribe opioid-based pharmaceuticals to treat moderate-to-severe pain. The writing of prescriptions was slackly distributed to patients young and old for too many years. In 2014, drug overdoses in America hit an all-time high. And according to the CDC, six out of 10 of those overdoses were opioid-related. Almost 19,000 people died from painkillers—most accidentally.

The Test

A cheek-swab DNA test has been created by a California bioscience lab called Proove. The physical test is combined with a patient questionnaire. One of the lead developers claims the results are about 93% accurate. The results depict a patient’s opioid addiction risk.

Some in the medical field doubt the efficacy of such a test. They believe that a good doctor monitors the patient’s symptoms and response to medication—and that’s the best “biomarker.”

Proponents of the DNA test feel this is advancement towards placing fewer people at risk of opioid addiction. Once the biotech company’s claims are peer-reviewed, more details regarding its success rate will be available.

Why Bother?

As mentioned, the numbers of opioid overdoses are staggering. But another crucial problem is the increase in heroin use. Prescription painkillers become addictive. Many heroin users begin using because it’s a similar high to the opiate-based pills, is cheaper, and more readily available.

We’re not just talking about adults here. Data collected between 2009 and 2013 from a survey of 15,000 high school students in an ongoing nationwide study was analyzed. The findings were that 75% of high school seniors who abuse opioid prescription drugs have used (or are still using) heroin.


If a swab DNA test can tell you if you’re predisposed to opioid addiction, you and your doctor probably won’t want you to take painkillers. There are synthetic prescription alternatives available for short-term use like Tramadol.

There are also non-medicinal pain-relieving options as well. Numerous studies, along with patient testimony, have given Tai Chi, yoga, and acupuncture their due place at the top of “modern” healing practices. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has publicly stated that non-drug approaches to pain management can be significantly beneficial.

In the best of all worlds, you wouldn’t suffer from unmanageable pain. Keeping our bodies healthy and making safe choices can help prevent illness and injury. If, however, you find that pain gets the best of you, give it some worthy thought before taking any opioid-based medicine.


Red Tea Detox
Red Tea Detox

American Epidemic of Opioid and Heroin Addiction

Over the past two decades, we’ve been experiencing a steep increase in opioids and heroin abuse. Overdoses have frighteningly become commonplace. The pain-killer drug addiction in America has become so dire that the government now claims it will take action.

White House Words

It appears that a commission has been launched to try and diffuse our rampant drug addiction crisis in this country. President Trump appointed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to chair a special commission. Their efforts will be aimed at battling the epidemic. They expect to work with law enforcement officials on local and state levels. Additionally, the plan is to work along side medical communities as well.

Governor Christie spoke about opioid and heroin use in our country as an epidemic. He also added, “Addiction is a disease. We need to treat it that way and we need to get people the help that they need to renew their lives and help become productive members of society and our families.”

The Rise in Use is a Killer

Between 1999 and 2014, the sale of opioid-based pain prescriptions quadrupled. As you may have read in Dr. Campbell’s newsletters or other GetThrive articles, the effects of this increase has been deadly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of unintentional death amongst Americans is prescription pill and heroin overdose.

Prescription pain killer abusers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin than anyone else—even those addicted to alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine.

Latest Research

A study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed the increased prevalence of heroin use amongst whites. Data was analyzed from surveys, which included over 75,000 participants who had used heroin. In the last decade, the percentage of addicts in the white population has increased significantly more than in non-white populations.

Another important revelation from this research was a definite link between misusing prescription opioids and eventual heroin use. In 2001, approximately 35% of heroin users had originally used prescription pain pills before graduating to heroin. By 2013, the data showed that over 50% of heroin addicts abused opioids prior to using heroin.

Clearly, there exists a need for greater awareness of the potential devastating effects of misusing opioid-based pain pills. Educational campaigns would certainly be beneficial. Hopefully, Washington’s plan to involve itself in battling this epidemic will also affect some success. This is a real problem and exploring alternatives for pain management is a positive action.

Am I Addicted?

If you or any of your loved ones have taken opioid-based medication (such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl), there are signs to observe if you’re concerned about addiction.

-You may be dependent because you feel withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take another pill.

– Even if your drug use is negatively affecting your job and/or relationships, you continue to take it (because the need to take it is controlling you.)

– You have less or no interest in activities you used to greatly enjoy.

– A lot of your money is being redirected to the cost of your medication (or heroin).

– You are committing illegal or unethical acts to get the drugs you need.

There is help if you are concerned for yourself or for another. Reach out to one of the many resources you can find online or through your healthcare provider. There is no shame in asking for assistance. We can all use some help now and then.



Is Pot Better For Pain Than Pills?

Medical marijuana has a wealth of benefits for people with pain. Although doctors prescribe opioid medication for extreme discomfort, a recent study showed that patients actually preferred cannabis. Does this mean pot works better?

Weed-ing out Some Facts

Cannabis (in plant form) and cannabis oil offer health merits such as helping with glaucoma, pain management, and improving appetite.

Cannabidiol Extract (CBD) is a chemical compound in marijuana, but without the THC. THC is psychoactive; CBD oil doesn’t get you high. Cannabidiol essential oil has an incredibly long list of health advantages without undesirable side effects.

Pain relief and decreased inflammation are the primary positive yields from CBD oil use. Approximately 17 states across the U.S. have approved this essential oil as a valid, medicinal treatment. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a 2013 study that showed CBD oil’s benefits are linked to:

  • Reduced nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced risk of seizures
  • Battling psychotic disorders
  • Reduced inflammation and battling against inflammatory diseases
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia onset
  • Reduced growth of cancer cells
  • Reduced anxiety and depression

Recent Research

The University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria recently conducted a study. The Canadian research found that patients prefer using cannabis over opioid pills to treat chronic pain and mental health issues.

Over 250 patients were surveyed regarding their use of cannabis for pain. Over 60 percent reported that they used cannabis instead of other prescribed medicines, which included opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. One of the main reasons they preferred using cannabis was because they felt they had better symptom management.

They also reported that cannabis had fewer side effects than the prescription pills. Overall, the response from the participants using cannabis (instead of opioids) was that “they felt safer.”

Cannabis IS Safer

The sale of opioid-based pain prescriptions quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of unintentional death amongst Americans is prescription pill and heroin overdose.

It’s also true that doctors have been careful not to overprescribe in the past couple of years. Originally, the pharmaceutical company claimed that opioid-based medicines were not addictive. Since the drug company lost a major lawsuit, and we see the epidemic-numbers of abuse and addiction, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency finally decided to step in. Thankfully, the market is shrinking, and this year, manufacturing of opioids will be reduced by 25%.

According to the U.S. DEA drug sheet, “no deaths from marijuana overdose have ever been recorded.”

Certainly, a person’s ability to make safe choices while on cannabis can be impaired. There have been deaths related to the behavioral effects from marijuana use. But as far as dying directly from an overdose of pot, it would be almost impossible. A 2006 report in American Scientist claimed that in order to cause a fatality, a person would need to smoke or eat 1,000 times the usual dose of cannabis.

This material does not condone nor deter any person from using cannabis or taking prescription opioids. It is a personal decision (made with your health care provider) what course of treatment is best when you are in dire pain. And of course, there are other paths of treatment as well. To read more about this and other topical health care articles, check out