Opiod Abuse Study
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The ongoing opioid epidemic affects nearly every community across the country. Many organizations are brainstorming how to reduce prescription drug use and abuse. "There are three types of people. There are people with legitimate pain. There are people who have been overprescribed. And yes, there are the people that have been abusers," said Rosalie Danchanko, executive director of Highlands Health Clinic in Johnstown. The free and charitable clinic was awarded a $35,000 grant last year from Cardinal Health Generation RX with the goal of finding ways to combat opioid misuse. "We're looking at the person as the individual, We're taking away the stigma that they're on opioids, and we're examining as to why there is that need." She says in the past, different doctors have provided medicine as replacement therapy, and the equivalency to morphine was very high and dangerous. "Because of our intervention and the time we took with the individual, we have been able to reduce that equivalency rate," Danchanko said. She says part of the reduction includes relying on alternatives to medication. "And we are employing those, through exercise, yoga, mindfulness, TENS machine" Danchanko said. Of the 40 participants in the study, five stopped using opioid medications altogether, while 32 were kept under the maximum recommended dosage. There was a 7 percent decrease in the average dose of opioid prescriptions. A quarter of the patients were also treated with alternative pain management with a strong degree of success. Danchanko says it's a long, ongoing process to educate providers and patients. "I think that there is hope,And I think hope begins at realizing that we're working with people and not addicts." Highlands Health was one of 10 organizations that received the grant among other hospitals and universities. The cumulative results from all 10 organizations will be compiled into a national recommendation for treating patients on opioids.