After four years of opioid treatments, Jim Pershing had had enough.

Mr. Pershing served three tours of duty in Vietnam as a Radioman for the navy. There, he became exposed to Agent Orange, which caused him to develop lymphoma decades after he left the service. Chemotherapy treatments left him in severe pain, and doctors prescribed Oxycotin, and then Tramadol. Even with the drugs, they told him that his joints might never stop aching.

“I was never one to live off opiates,” Mr. Pershing said. He had seen other vets become addicted to their prescription drugs. “I wanted to find an alternative answer — something different.”

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