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posted: 5/21/2018 1:00 AM

Managing the opioid crisis takes a team effort

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  • Gregory Teas

    Gregory Teas


At Amita Health, we are acutely aware of the challenge that the opioid crisis presents to heighten awareness of the public and medical professionals, alter attitudes of providers and obtain sustainable results in reversing this tragic phenomenon.

The public is aware that doctors underestimating opioid risks, patients demanding more intervention and drug companies marketing opioid products, have all played critical roles in creating this crisis.

We are committed to reducing exposure of all patients to opioids when possible, minimizing the risks for overdose by prescribing fewer pills to be available for diversion, usually accidentally, and to provide alternative, useful methods for chronic pain management. Long term opioid therapy for nonmalignant pain should never be a desirable outcome as it has not yielded the positive results that doctors and patients expect. However, stopping opioid therapy without a sound plan for the future is not appropriate either. These goals require conversations and planning in our offices and hospitals with mutual understanding.

Denying treatment is not a solution and will only aggravate risks to patients. Innovative care such as PRO-CAMP, an outpatient multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation program, through the Amita Health Neurosciences Institute is one example of collaboration between patients and providers in achieving this vision of reducing the role of drugs in general and opioids specifically in managing chronic pain.

The pain management centers at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center and Amita Health Adventist Medical Center Glen Oaks are also valuable resources for patients suffering from chronic pain. Our physicians collaborate with patients and our team of health psychologists and physical therapists to provide evidence-based, comprehensive care to help best manage chronic pain.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the community who have been exposed to long-term opioid therapy and have a difficult time coming off these medications.

We now know that opioid medications can make a person's body physically and emotionally dependent and tolerant to their effects; it is these properties that lead to addiction and potentially overdose. Amita Health Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital connects patients to psychiatric, psychological, and social support services to optimize the ability to wean off of opioid medications resulting in the safe withdrawal of opioids over time.

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• Dr. Gregory Teas is chief medical officer of AMITA Health Behavioral Medicine Sercvice Line. He oversses psychiatiric servcies at eight hospitals.