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Hospital Limits Prescription Painkillers To Curb Heroin Abuse

Prescription painkillers have been taking lives at a record pace. It is a very common medication that is abused because it grabs a hold of the patient almost immediately. Doctors are prescribing strong narcotic painkillers for simple ailments and in many cases the painkillers are not even necessary.

In our society today many patients feel that they should not be in pain. If it is possible to stop the pain, many times a doctor will prescribe an opiate based painkiller. The problem is that when the pain is not severe and a painkiller is administered, the patient feels a strong dose of euphoria. This feeling can change the patient forever.  They may seek that feeling constantly and this is where addicts are born.

Far too often future heroin addicts begin their journey with a prescription written by a doctor. "The gateway drugs are oxycodone and hydrocodone, it's not marijuana," said Dr. Rami Khoury, a physician at Allegiance Health and the hospital's medical director. "And where do users get these medications? “Well, typically, from the emergency department.”

On September 28th,2015, Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley visited Allegiance Health to learn more about the hospital’s efforts to curb opiate abuse by restricting the access to prescription painkillers. With less access to these medications, the less of a chance of a patient leaving with a strong narcotic that is unnecessary for the ailment they are enduring. Many of these patients head to the emergency room with the sole purpose of obtaining prescription painkillers. The abuse and desire for these medications is making the job of a physician very difficult. Allegiance Health has developed new guidelines for prescribing purposes. The main goal is to reduce the amount of addicts, abuse of prescription painkillers, drop the number of heroin addicts and lower the overdose rate in their community. The restrictive prescribing methods were implemented in 2012 and seem to be reaching their goal.

"The issue is not to persecute anybody, but to prescribe and write prescriptions in a very responsible manner," said Khoury. "If you have a chronic pain condition, and you need strong medication, only one doctor should be prescribing the pain medication. "Doctors know how many pills a patient is taking, what else you're on, and what other risk factors there are," Khoury added, noting he'd like to see similar restrictions implemented statewide.

The information was presented to the governor as he visited Allegiance Health to recognize Dr. Khoury as a regional leader in the effort to curb opiate addiction. "My visit here today is to learn about what's happening on the ground," Calley said, sitting beside Dr. Khoury. "From people who are not just dealing with the crisis situation that we face today but also from those who are taking very aggressive, proactive steps to try and change things."


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