The “facts” are in about the overuse and over prescribing of painkillers, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. The number of middle-aged women dying from overdoses has dramatically climbed. Men still lead the way in dying from drug overdoses, but women have been narrowing the gap.
When we are talking about opioid use, we are often talking about physical pain. There is no doubt that prescription drugs are a godsend to ease intense and chronic suffering. But often the “pain” in painkillers really is emotional: we are experiencing intense emotions and not dealing with them constructively. We have overwhelming responsibilities, economic hardships, or want relief from the chaos and don’t want to feel our sadness, anger, and fear.
Docs and patients want something that relieves the problem most effectively with the least amount of effort – sort of like painkillers, but without the staggering side effects.
The question then becomes “What’s a solution?”
First we must recognize that underneath ALL pain — physical, mental, or emotional — are unexpressed emotions. Think about it: physical pain elicits emotions which compound our discomfort.
What studies and our personal experience tell us is that just dealing with our emotional pain on a cognitive level doesn’t dissolve our desire to numb out. We need to deal with our emotions physically because if we look closely, we realize that emotions are “E” (energy) in motion. Emotions are pure energy; simply physical sensations in the body that are natural and inherent. If we wail, tantrum, and cry like little children who then let it go and return to their lovely present selves, we too can experience the healing benefits of doing what’s natural. We need to go back to what we spontaneously did before we internalized all those demeaning messages about why it’s not okay to express our emotions physically.
This is the same conclusion I came to in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings. We can greatly diminish acts of violence if we have someplace where we can deal with what’s an inherent part of life… our emotions.
We need to construct “OK rooms”, places where we can go and safely express our sadness, anger, and fear physically, naturally, and constructively. We need these designated areas not just in each household, but in every school, office, shopping mall, hospital, prison, and sports arena.
“OK Rooms” are a place where emotions are expressed without hurting oneself or others. Ideally they have pillows for screaming into, old phone books to pound, heavy bags to punch, cardboard boxes or magazines to rip apart and Kleenex for the tears. But it can be the bathroom, garage, or the car as well.
The solution is apparent, cheap, and healthy: learn how to process and release our sadness, anger, and fear in a way that doesn’t harm others and frees the body, mind, and spirit from the negative repercussions of too many painkillers.