Battling the opioid crisis


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2017.

In efforts to stop the misuse of opioid painkillers a local oral surgery office is making changes.

“Everybody’s been touched by this opioid epidemic in some way or another,” Oral surgeon Trevor Holleman said.

Holleman says the loss of his mentor’s son from opioids was one factor that pushed him to want to put an end to the opioid epidemic.

“We started to decrease the amounts of opioids that we prescribe, and with that increase our education, patient education and our parent education along with some multimodal techniques that we try to utilize,” Holleman said.

River Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Center has lowered opioid prescription doses, from 20 pills to five.

“When you first start and you say hey, we’re going to decrease that much you know, the original response is people aren’t going to be able to handle it we’re going to get all these call backs from people in pain,” Holleman said.

But that’s the opposite response the office is seeing. Instead, he says many patients aren’t having the need to fill prescriptions at all.

After patients are done with their surgery, doctors give them a chart to show them how and when to take their medication.

The chart shows Ibuprofen and Tylenol first, followed by a red colored opioid at the top– displaying it as the last form of action.

Another leading factor in these changes is Emily’s Hope, a non-profit started by KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke, after losing her daughter Emily to fentanyl poising in 2018.

“I’ve set up a fund called Emily’s Hope, because I never gave up hope on my daughter. And I want her life and her tragic death to at least give someone else hope,” Kennecke said.

Emily’s Hope helps offset the cost of treatment and allows people struggling with addiction to get the help they need by removing financial barriers.

“This is a nationwide crisis, but with Emily’s Hope we’ve certainly shown the public and created more awareness about the importance and the direness of the situation,” Oral surgeon Brent Henriksen said.

Henriksen says the opioid epidemic raises awareness of addiction potential, but adds that it puts surgeons in a challenging spot.

“We want to have our patients as most comfortable and pain free as possible. And so we have to weigh the unintended consequences of prescribing opioid medications,” Henriksen said.

In addition to lowering doses, he says patients are evaluated on a variety of factors to determine whether or not they’re a candidate for opioids.

“We have a balancing act to do, and we can always kind of improve on that goal,” Henriksen said.

River Ridge oral and maxillofacial surgical center also offers an opioid-free pain treatment to patients.

Exparel is injected into the surgical site, causing a temporary numbness. Check with your insurance to see if you’re covered.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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