Sadly, there is an opioid and heroin epidemic sweeping our nation. Greater Cincinnati is feeling the side effects as much as any other city. The impact of the epidemic goes far beyond addicts, even changing the ways that many physicians prescribe pain killers.
Dr. Justin Kruer is a fellowship-trained pain management doctor with Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. He works out of Beacon’s Fort Thomas location. As a pain management specialist, Dr. Kruer has seen firsthand the fear associated with opioids.
“I have patients with severe pain and don’t want me to prescribe them opioids,” Dr. Kruer stated. They would rather live in pain than risk addiction to pain killers, or worse. Similarly, many physicians are apprehensive about prescribing related medications, even when it could improve a patient’s quality of life.
Dr. Kruer agreed that many concerns related to over-prescription and addictions are well founded, which is why he incorporates other methods like physical therapy and radiotherapy. He doesn’t want someone to resort to painkillers first, even for chronic pain. Before even considering a painkiller perscription, the patient is individually assessed for their opioid addiction risk.
Even once a prescription is written, patients are drug screened and pills are counted. Pain management physicians want to improve quality of life, without risking the monstrous negative effects of a painkiller or opioid addiction. For them, and many of their patients, this is of the highest importance.
The Independent Physicians Collaborative put together a Thought Leadership Survey. 180 doctors took the survey, and the results were shocking: an overwhelming 82% noted that the tristate area’s heroin problem is chilling their ability to treat patients’ pain.
Many doctors agree that painkiller prescription restrictions have tightened as a direct result of the heroin epidemic. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reported a 400% increase in overdose deaths since 1999 in the United States.
To read the full story by Terry Demio, as featured in the Enquirer and Cincinnati.com, please click here.