04 Jan Defining the Opioid Crisis
Opioid abuse has been dubbed an epidemic for years, but earlier in 2017 it officially became a “public health emergency.” What’s the difference, and what does that mean for pain sufferers? At Integrated Pain Consultants, alternative and natural therapies are prioritized to avoid the risky side effects of long-term opioid use. The opioids that naturally occur in the body are synthesized in small amounts and are not effective “painkillers.” However, using opioids at higher amounts to treat pain is very effective at blocking the pain, but also bombards the brain’s reward system making it a highly addictive therapy.
A public health emergency isn’t the same as a national emergency. When the President declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency in October, around 150 people in the US were dying every week from an opioid overdose. Technically, the President demands that the Health and Human Services Secretary declares public health emergencies.
In July, a commission that studied the opioid epidemic recommended that the President declare an emergency. They recommended two types: Either a public health emergency or FEMA emergency. The former was selected.
Dr. Bertha Madras, a Harvard Medical School professor who was also on the opioid commission, has told NPR that the commission thought a FEMA emergency was also fitting. However, with no precedent for it, it’s easy to see why the public health emergency title was selected. FEMA emergencies are usually reserved for specific locations, not nationwide events.
The most significant benefit of it being a public health emergency is that it allows for standardized access to telemedicine services. Rural areas are especially impacted by the opioid crisis, and the goal of the national health emergency is to boost treatment in under-represented areas. Telemedicine can help fill in the gaps when there aren’t doctors physically available to help in some regions.
Of course, it also increases awareness and dialogue. Addiction is notoriously a topic that’s kept in the shadows. Increasing coverage also opens up the door to talk about alternative therapies, such as joint injections. If you’d like to find out more about opioid alternatives, call the pain management experts at Integrated Pain Consultants today – 480-626-2552. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.