Painkillers helped create opioid crisis

DEAR EDITOR:

The opioid crisis should have doctors and patients rethinking the use of prescription pain medications.

The seriousness of this crisis cannot be overstated. More than 90 Americans are dying from drug overdoses daily. Sadly, in a way that none of us would want, Ohio is in the heart of it all. In Trumbull County alone, overdose fatalities have risen from 36 in 2012 to 106 in 2016 with 2017 looking to be far worse. Drug overdoses now exceed auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio.

Lost in headlines about the sheer number of overdose deaths is how many addicted began their downward spiral with what seemed like a routine initial doctor’s prescription for painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin. A New England Journal of Medicine study revealed 80 percent of heroin addicts started with a reliance on prescribed pain medications.

NPR reports that people get prescribed painkillers, become addicted and then seek cheaper and more potent drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids.

Many health experts have long backed a drug-free, chiropractic-first approach, arguing that this is an effective, safer way of addressing many patients’ spine and joint-related pain. Others got on board after the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention finally began urging physicians to use alternatives to opioids and the American College of Physicians recommended spinal manipulation as a first line approach for acute chronic back pain rather than medication.

Despite this, Ohio remains stuck in an outdated drug-first care model. The rate at which physicians prescribe opioids has almost quadrupled since 1999. Ohio’s prescription increases exceed the national average and our Valley exceeds the Ohio average! Enough opioids were prescribed in 2013 to give every adult in the U.S. a bottle of pills! The cost in lives and money of treating addicts this model produces is breaking the hearts and draining the funds of our communities. It must stop!

Earlier this year, the doctors of the Eastern Ohio Chiropractic Society (EOCS) representing Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties declared our own war on the opioid crisis and began doing what we could to change things for the better. We invited lawmakers and policy changers to meet with us and Attorney General Mike DeWine and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, both candidates for Ohio governor. We do not intend to stop trying until we’ve made a meaningful difference in this tragic crisis unfolding right here in our community.

DR. PAT ENSMINGER

Chairman,

Ohio State Chiropractic

Association Opioid Task Force

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