WILMINGTON – Are opiates the only answer to dealing with chronic or surgical pain? Three local agencies are joining together to say “no.”
Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren & Clinton Counties (MHRS), in partnership with the Warren County Health District and the Clinton County Health District, have launched the “My Alternatives” campaign to provide education and information about other options to opiates that residents may want to explore with their health provider.
“Our goal in partnering is to provide conversation starters for people to take to their health care provider,” said Brent Lawyer, executive director of MHRS. “We recently did a local survey to see if people are prescribed opiates and, among those that have been, whether they’ve explored other pain management options with their doctors. The answer to the latter was not so much. Hopefully this campaign will provide some food for thought that people can take to their health provider for more discussion.”
“Opioids have had a devastating effect on the lives of many Warren County residents,” said Duane Stansbury, Health Commissioner for the Warren County Health District. “Their misuse and overuse has led to the highest number of drug overdose deaths in the history of our country. Talk with your doctor about the alternatives that provide better and safer pain management.”
Pamela Walker-Bauer, health commissioner for the Clinton County Health District, agreed. “We are pleased to once again partner with our mental health colleagues. We have to work together using an alternative approach to battle the largest public health epidemic in our life time.”
Research on opiate addiction shows that many cases have started with a prescription opiate. “Some people who have become addicted did so due to prescription misuse,” said Jeff Rhein, MHRS Director of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. “Opiates work well when taken as prescribed, but some people may have taken more than necessary. Others might use them longer than they should. There’s just a variety of ways addiction can happen.
“What we didn’t see early on, and are now seeing more of, is education about the risks of these substances. When a doctor suggests an opiate to treat pain, ask questions about side effects and what other alternatives might help. Prescribing guidelines have helped, but we still have those that were impacted by this in the past seeking recovery.”
The “My Alternatives” campaign mirrors a campaign started last year in Butler County through Envision Partnerships, a non-profit prevention-oriented organization. The Warren and Clinton County campaign adds information resources including billboards, a dedicated web landing page, tear-off information in health provider offices, and social media, speaking engagements, and presence at various community events.