Pain Stops Here

Doctors: Lack of Education Hurting Opioid Progress

KILLEEN, Texas - The number of opioid-related overdoses in Texas has increased over the past decade. 

FOX44 and Integrated Pain Associates in Killeen have teamed up to bring attention to the opioid crisis. House Committee members met for the first time this week to discuss possible solutions.

Physicians say confusing regulations could be a good place to start.

"We are now delivering policies as opposed to delivering care. Kind of make it up as you go? Yes, because everybody has a different message," says Dr. Scott Irvine.

As state lawmakers discuss a more efficient treatment plan, doctors say proper regulation is well overdue in an evolving healthcare world.

"From pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies to pharmacists to drug manufacturers to society making their own set of rules. Nobody's talking to each other. Nobody's talking to us," Irvine says.

A new report by health benefits provider Castlight reveals four of the top 25 cities for opioid abuse are in Texas.

The amount of statewide drug overdose deaths has risen at an alarming rate - from just under 800 deaths in 1999 to nearly 2,000 in 2007, and close to 3,000 in 2016.

"Some of those regulations are difficult for a lot of primary care or other physicians' offices to ensure. They're able to comply with because of the infrastructure and amount of time that's required," says Dr. Benjamin Lowry.

Some of the toughest treatment challenges include working around already addicted pain patients, as only nine percent of people statewide needing addiction treatment actually get it.

"We want to be a voice for the patients because the truth is not zero, and the truth is not where we're at. So we're left with trying to navigate those waters," Irvine says.

If you have any questions about opioids that you want FOX44 to answer, you can email them to news@kwkt.com or send them out on social media with the hashtag #painstopshere.

For more information, you can view our previous story here.


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