Oak Ridge Oral Surgeon Hopes Non-Opioid Alternative will Help Fight Opioid Epidemic

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) - An East Tennessee doctor hopes to make a change in his community. Instead of prescribing addictive drugs, he's using non-opioid alternatives for his patients.

The Oak Ridge oral surgeon is making an effort to help stop the opioid epidemic that's sweeping across the country right now.

Prescription practices have been changing over time at Oral Surgery Specialists of Tennessee.

"We've gradually prescribed less and less opioids and this has, in some circumstances, eliminated the need for opiates all together," said Dr. Andrew Cheung.

For nearly two years now, doctors at OSST have been on board using an alternative to opioids, called Exparel.

"It is an injectable medicine. It is a local anesthetic that is a slow release over time. So over the next three to four days, after their procedure has been completed, individuals are less likely to turn to opiates," said Dr. Cheung.

Using this substitute is discussed with patients during their consultations and doses of EXPAREL are customized. Dr. Cheung says depending on the procedure, patients may not be prescribed opioids at all.

Stephanie Strutner with ASAP of Anderson County, a substance abuse prevention coalition, says they've hosted continuing medical education courses for physicians.

"They really do have a keen awareness now of the issues related to the overprescribing of opioids and many providers are taking a really responsible step to prescribe alternative medications and other treatments," she said.

Strutner explains this new approach helps in that the fewer pills there are, the less likely opioids will be misused, "There are some studies that have come out recently showing the combination of other medications that are non-habit forming and non-opioids are actually more effective at treating acute pain tha nopioids."

For doctors at OSST, like Dr. Cheung, every day is an opportunity with their patients

"To provide them options, to see them succeed, and hopefully not end up in an opiate circumstance," said Cheung.

ASAP of Anderson County adds it's important for patients to take an active role in their care. We should be studying and learning more about the treatments suggested by our doctors.

https://www.wate.com/news/local-news/oak-ridge-oral-surgeon-hopes-non-opioid-alternative-will-help-fight-opioid-epidemic/1239615456

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