What Alabama doctors are doing to curb the opioid abuse epidemic

    What Alabama doctors are doing to curb opioid abuse epidemic

    The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a scary picture in recent reports they've put out.

    And while there is trouble in Alabama, doctors are trying to change the trend.

    The CDC shows prescription opiod pain relievers and heroin killed more than 28,000 people in 2014 alone.

    Some of the blame has been placed on the medical community.

    "Some public officials, some governors have not read the data. They continue to say that physicians prescribe opiods like candy, " UAB Doctor Stefan Kertesz said.

    He is an expert in the field of opiod abuse and says that's not true.

    "The candy store has gotten a lot smaller in the last three years, " Kertesz said.

    He says doctors across the nation, have become much more aware of the issue.

    "According to the New York Times, over the last three years we've reduced the prescribing of opioids between 12 and 18 percent, " Kertesz said.

    In the state of Alabama he says it's something more like a 25 percent reduction.

    Now as doctors continue to limit the amount of narcotic pain med prescriptions they hand out, they're also looking into safer pain management treatments, even natural methods.

    "Yoga or mindfulness based interventions or cognitive behavioral therapy, where we work on people's pattern of thought. Not all of these trials have perfect results. they don't all prove a sustained benefit, but generally there's very little risk from these treatments and for a lot of people, they at least get some moderate improvement in their pain condition, " Kertesz said.

    ABC 33/40 reached out to three of the top Alabama insurance companies, about what their stance was on finding alternative pain management treatments.

    Cigna responded by saying

    "Our goal is for Cigna customers to have long, healthy and productive lives. We plan to work in partnership with doctors to help them find alternative ways to treat pain that won't put people at risk for opioid use disorder."

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