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Mercy Medical Center taking steps to combat opioid epidemic

We aren't alone with steps to combat the opioid epidemic

We have seen it more and more across the country: people overdosing on opioids.

"We use it more in pain modalities than we did in 1999," says Greg Halbur, family physician at Mercy Medical Center. "And because of that, there's more of a chance for overdose."

A few years ago, the FDA presented a warning to avoid taking opioids and benzodiazepines, like Zanax or Valium, together.

Mercy Medical Center is taking steps to combat the opioid epidemic.

"We're taking our patients who are on opioids and benzodiazepines, which are two central nervous system depressants, and we are now going to get them in here, counsel them, and we are going to ween them off one of them," says Missy Levering, registered nurse at Mercy Medical Center.

The clinic will reduce the usage by ten percent a week, which is about three months. This has shown to reduce the death rate, which nationally sits at two hundred thousand a year.

Doctors and patients work together on a plan to use another method of pain relief, if possible, not use to much of the opioids, and use lowest dose that's effective.

"You have to develop a system and help patients manage their opioid medications," says Halbur. "They don't come in with a written way to figure out how to use their opioids, how to limit their opioids, so you have to educate them. You have to help them monitor this."

The clinic will monitor patients and their drug intake with follow ups every three months and drug testings.

"This is a huge crisis for a reason, and their health is our concern," says Levering.

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