Dentists join forces with authorities to curb heroin addiction

Dentists join forces with authorities to curb heroin addiction

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Authorities say it's an epidemic that's affecting all areas of a community. This is why they're joining forces with community advocates to get ahead of the growing heroin problem in our area.

When we think heroin addiction, our dentist likely isn't the first person we think of who's helping to get ahead of the growing addiction.

However Thursday, more than 200 dentists, advocates and law enforcement officers joined forces to talk solutions to this problem.

"The public has listened to a lot of media reports about oral surgeons are giving too many opioid prescriptions and this is leading toward addiction, then heroin addiction then death," said Dr. Larry Schmakel, Toledo Dental Society.

The Dental Opioid Symposium & Education or DOSE event aims to change this dialog.

By educating the dental community about proper prescription writing for pain medications, they can remove the risk of patients having left over opioids.

"We are here to share information to talk about what we can do as a community and the dentist are certainly a strong part
of our community," said Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp. "I applaud them for being so aggressive and stepping up and putting this forum together."

"Part of what we're trying to do tonight is move the culture," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "Make sure the dentists fully understand the implication of all of the bad things that can happen if someone does get addict."

Shifting the culture is in three parts. It starts with dentists not over prescribing and getting background on the patient's medication history.

"If we're going to write an opioid prescription of seven days or more then we need to go on that cite and it's a requirement to see what kind of opioids they've had in the last year," said Dr. Schmakel.

Second part of shifting the culture, dentists said patients have to get used to a little pain.

The third part is the pharmaceutical company.

"We've gone through a period of time where drug companies were really pushing these pain medications. Saying that they weren't very addictive. We now know that they're very addictive," DeWine said.

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