AUSTIN (KXAN) — The move to declare a public health emergency on prescription painkillers is on hold Wednesday night. President Donald Trump hasn’t taken steps to do that yet, but some Austin-area doctors are launching their own campaign to make sure patients don’t get hooked.
For Ryan Smith, it’s a once-a-week visit to a chiropractor. He injured his back more than a decade ago while playing college football. Back then, doctors gave him the prescription painkiller hydrocodone.
“It would help, just for pain management,” Smith said. “Then the pain would come back.” But something changed his mind about using prescription painkillers.
“I had a friend in college basically overdosed on Oxycontin,” he said. “I’ll take a couple of Ibuprofen for some inflammation, but that’s as far as it’s going for me.”
He is not alone. That is why doctors at The Joint Chiropractic in southwest Austin are launching a campaign this week, introducing patients with acute and chronic pain to more natural treatments. Their message: Don’t fill the prescription at all, focus first on exercise, spinal adjustments and massage instead.
“If we can get more people trying this, we have a better starting place,” said Dr. Drew Perkins, a chiropractor at The Joint. “We have a better starting place.”
According to research by the University of Texas’s School of Social Work, the state does not look like most other states, mainly in the northeast, that are dealing with epidemic levels of prescription painkillers. But last year, more than 750 people in Texas died from misuse of prescribed pain medication.
Dr. Perkins said natural treatment is about 80 percent effective for most people, especially those with back pain, headaches and neck injuries. Some of his patients have kicked out painkillers out for good, he said.
“Most of them aren’t happy with taking them because it’s just a temporary relief, they’re not solving any problem,” said Dr. Perkins.
The School of Social Work also discovered that the number of police reports of prescription painkillers decreased over time in Texas. Several reasons include more public information campaigns about prescription drug abuse, better education for doctors and legislation to decrease pill mills.