GRAND RAPIDS, Mich-- As the opioid crisis continues to impact communities throughout the country, a generation of chemically-dependent chronic pain patients are now working to get off the drugs they were once prescribed to use daily.
One of those people is Jim Bright.
The 59-year-old has been suffering from chronic back pain for 17 years, taking opioids to help treat it.
In 2000, he says a sharp pain shot up in arm, forcing him to the hospital.
"The pain just kept getting worse and I wasn't getting any better," said Bright.
Bright ended up undergoing intensive spinal surgery, and spent years taking medications as prescribed, but he says he pain didn't get any better.
"I got to a point where I didn't like the pain meds and I didn't like the pain," said Bright.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that while prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate and severe pain, there are serious risk in the drugs being used to treat chronic pain and lack evidence about long term effectiveness.
As the opioid epidemic continues to claim a reported 130 lives everyday, states, like Michigan, are cracking down on the amount of opioids that doctors are allowed to prescribe. It's something many say is a change from what was happening in the late 1990s.
"These medications are addictive and there was a time when we were told by the manufactures that if you prescribe an opioid for a person in chronic pain, their risk of becoming addictive is extremely low that proved not to be the case," said Dr. James Hudson with Mary Free Bed.
Dr. Hudson now works with patients, like Bright, who have fallen victim to the opioid epidemic.
"He was one of those people that at that point in his life he was taking the medications as prescribed for his pain and was struggling with it," said Dr. Hudson. "A lot of the physicians who were prescribing high dosages are just taking their patients off the opioids and not giving them anything else, giving them a way to manage their chronic pain and we think that they need a lot of education."
Chiropractic offices across america are *also being filled with chronic patients affected by the epidemic.
"It's at the point where it's so bad that I feel like it almost needs a full reset and to really crack down on that," said Dr. Jeffrey Gorbach with Gorbach Family Chiropractic.
Some are hoping that patients will come to them before turning to harmful medications and surgery.
"I realize that I can't help everyone but I do my best to make their bad days better and have more good days than bad days and some days along the way we get people getting their life back fully," said Dr. Gorbach.
Jim Bright is no longer on taking any opioids and says he hopes to start golfing again.
He also hopes his story will give someone else out there the courage to find a different way to deal with pain.
If you are struggling with prescription opioids, there are many resources for help.