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Pushing alternatives right move

Accidental drug overdoses have killed more Ohioans than car crashes since 2007.

In an effort to reduce the number of overdoses, Gov. John Kasich’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team announced Tuesday new guidelines that would require people with short-term pain from injuries or surgery be given alternatives to prescription painkillers whenever possible and be provided only the minimum amounts if absolutely needed.

Alternatives to the class of painkillers known as opioids could include ice, heat, wraps, stretching, massage therapy, acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist, along with medicines that don’t have addictive qualities, such as ibuprofen, according to Dr. Mary DiOrio, medical director for the state Department of Health.

This comes on the heels of Attorney General Mike DeWine backing a related federal effort to curb the prescribing of painkillers. The proposals by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for considering non-addictive painkiller alternatives first, shortening prescription times for acute pain and lowering doses for chronic pain.

Physicians across the country need to be able to treat their patients in the most effective and beneficial ways, a happy medium between throwing pills at every problem and being afraid to prescribe prescription medication at all.

The overprescribing of painkillers certainly helped open the door to the heroin problem, which has hit record levels of fatal overdoses here and in neighboring states.

With lawmakers and physicians working together to find a solution, hopefully we can finally see a decline in the number of people becoming addicted to drugs.