Like much of the country, Indiana’s 4th District hasn't escaped the opioid epidemic. There have been some pretty illuminating studies published recently and a couple things are very clear:
Patients are over-prescribed and under-educated. This problem, of course, dates back to some false advertising by "Big Pharma" when pain pills first began being actively prescribed. One recent study found that only 62% of patients were even instructed about pain management strategies that did not involve drugs. Shockingly high numbers aren't even aware of the addictive nature of the drugs.
Furthermore, while our country’s talented, caring, and dedicated doctors are now well-aware of the problems posed by opioid prescription, this wasn’t the case until fairly recently. Decades ago, one doctor performed a study on only patients under his care in his hospital. He carefully monitored their dosage and concluded that a negligible number of patients under carefully supervised care showed signs of addiction. This was one sentence in one report. A renowned medical journal published that one sentence. It was accepted as gospel. It made its way into every single medical textbook, and was taught to every single medical student for multiple decades.
Perhaps one of the quickest fixes in terms of prevention, is to ensure that patients with musculoskeletal issues are referred to a physical therapist as opposed to seeing a primary care physician (who doesn't specialize in that area and may be more inclined to prescribe drugs for pain management as opposed to therapy).
The military employs many physical therapists, and we were almost always referred to one for therapy before drugs were even considered. We can take this one step farther by removing the need for a physician's referral and allowing patients direct access to physical therapists.
This is unfortunately only one aspect of the problem, however, and we still need to find a way to get our brothers and sisters that are currently addicted back on track and healthy. Governor Holcomb takes this complex and challenging issue extremely seriously, setting a goal for treatment facilities to be within one hour of every single Hoosier. As with so many other initiatives, Indiana is leading the charge to combat this issue and to implement the creative measures necessary to solve this problem.
We also need to tackle the corporatization of the black tar heroin trade and find a "best practice" for attacking that complex issue. The vast majority of the heroin peddled in this country comes from just one city in Mexico: Xalisco, Nayarit.
This is a three-part problem:
1) Opioid Addiction Prevention (to include stopping the influx of Fentanyl from China and Mexico)
2) Opioid Addiction Treatment/Recovery (to include criminal rehabilitation)
3) Combatting the flawless corporatization of the heroin trade