Doctors look to curb addiction with opioid alternatives

Doctors look to curb addiction with opioid alternatives
It often begins after a minor surgery or procedure. 

WSFA/NBC - So often it begins after a minor surgery or procedure. Someone is prescribed a painkiller and it leads to an addiction.

Statistics show oral surgeons are the top prescribers of opioids, nationally. In recent months Dr. Chase Pruitt and his team at Omaha Oral Surgery have taken strides to prevent patients from forming addictions.

With their new initiative "Nopioid" they originally set out to reduce the number of opioids they prescribe by 70 percent.

"We've been able to cut down our narcotic prescribing in our office by about 95 percent", said Pruitt.

The results are better than they expected thanks to the use of a new drug called Exparel. It's a long-acting local anesthetic medicine that they inject around the surgical sites. The anesthetic lasts about three days.

It's helped Pruitt go from prescribing about 30,000 opioids a year down to only 1,500.

"We don't have to deal with the risks of having extra pain pills laying around the house that friends and relatives can have access to", Pruitt said.

Nationwide, physical therapy has been another option doctors can prescribe to their patients.

Pruitt thinks that within the next five to ten years, new drugs like Exparel could replace opioids for certain procedures.

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