YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – At Youngstown State Friday afternoon, a dentist — of all people — led a frank discussion on the opioid crisis.
Dr. Frank Beck runs the opioid program at Mercy Health.
The crowd he spoke to Friday was made up of mostly students.
In his profession, Beck often deals with patients in pain.
“What did the dentist do? Well, we were the second-leading prescriber of opioids in the country, only behind emergency department docs,” he said.
Beck said 10 years ago, prescriptions for opioids like Vicodin and Percodan were for 30 at a time, which led to drug dependency and, eventually, to overdoses.
“Remember 82% of all patients who abused heroin started with a legitimate prescription.”
Today, dentists only prescribe 12 opioids at a time but that may still be 12 too many.
“Opioids are not very effective pain medications,” Beck said. “That’s your ‘wow’ moment to take home.”
But there are a combination of drugs Beck recommends to alleviate pain. He calls it “the pain cocktail.”
“You can get it yourself. It’s a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, taken commonly together.”
Beck also mentioned a survey done by emergency room doctors on the best way to treat extreme pain from things like kidney stones and broken bones.
“Three to one, they preferred the pain cocktail to oxycodone in the hospital emergency room.”
The U.S., Beck said, consumes 80% of the world’s opioids and 83% of the world has no access to opioids.
He also said there’s a new law in Ohio that prevents doctors from prescribing more than seven days worth of opioids at a time.