New Jersey Hospital Becomes First to Stop Using Opioids for Pain Management

“I have no problem with opioids. I have a problem with the way we use them.”

Via cc (Image credit: Frankie Leon)

A New Jersey hospital recognizes the role health care providers are playing in driving America’s deadly opiate epidemic — which claimed the lives of almost 30,000 people in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and now is doing its part to prevent narcotic abuse before it starts. For patients battling serious illnesses like cancer, opiates may be the only course of action to relieve pain; however, emergency room doctors at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson don’t want to render them the only line of defense.

“In many cases, we’re exposing people to opioids when we don’t need to be,” Andrew Kolodny, director of the nonprofit Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told The Daily Mail.

The emergency room at St. Joseph’s, the busiest ER in the state, has been using opioid alternative protocols since January with major success. Treating prescription painkillers solely as a last resort, the Alternative to Opiates (ALTO) program managed to help 75 percent of the 300 patients who came through without the use of any narcotics at all, and turned instead to non-opioid painkillers and physical therapy, among other things, for pain management. Excluded from ALTO are patients suffering from chronic pain who are already dependent on opioids.

Opioids should not be taken lightly — or for that matter, prescribed lightly. Their potential for abuse is very high, as is the possibility of patients on them resorting to heroin after their legal narcotics run out. Someone who’s been forthright about the pressing need of doctors to prescribe fewer opioid drugs is Sergey Motov, an associate research director at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center.

He told The Mail: “I have no problem with opioids. I have a problem with the way we use them: unintelligently, without understanding them. We need to talk to patients. The patient needs to be given an option. … we just blindly give them medication and hope they feel better.”

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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