E. Texas health care officials working to reduce opioid overdose - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

E. Texas health care officials working to reduce opioid overdoses

(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)

East Texas health care officials are joining in a statewide effort to reduce the number of opioid overdoses.
Tuesday, UT Health Northeast and the Department of State Health Services, hosted a training for healthcare providers.
They are working to make sure patients aren't put at risk with a prescription.

“These are like hydrocodone, of course heroin is an illegal opioid, oxycodone, some of those that are really strong painkillers, narcotic painkillers,” said Dr. Paul McGaha.

Experts say for the first time in about two decades, we are seeing the lifespan of Americans decrease.

“Just think about Prince’s death; very untimely, way too soon. This is the age group that they are seeing that it’s affecting, right in there from 30 to 55, 60,” said Carolyn Harvey, PhD.

Officials say since 1999, the number of opioid prescriptions and opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled.

“Since 1999, over a half a million Americans have lost their lives because of opioid overdose,” McGaha said.

Dr. Paul McGaha says in some cases these strong pain killers are vital. But their goal overall is to lessen patient access to them and limit potential addiction.

“Well, they are strong narcotics and they are addicting. They can effect certain centers of the brain. Plus they are respiratory suppressants, meaning they can make people stop breathing. Decrease the prescribing and use less addictive painkillers and go slow in the prescribing process,” McGaha said.

Experts say opioid overdose is almost entirely preventable, and they hope the changes they make today will save lives down the road.

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