Colorado hospitals launch ambitious program to reduce opioid addiction
Guidelines recommend treatment alternatives to addictive drugs
June 12, 2017
Dr. Don Stader remembers the moment he knew something had to change about how physicians prescribe opioid pain pills.
He was working at a freestanding emergency room in Colorado a few years ago when a patient came in after a heroin overdose. She was young, 21 years old. She had been a promising college student once. She needed multiple zaps of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone to revive her.
Talking with her later, he traced her addiction backward. Before she used heroin, she had abused opioid painkillers. Eventually she bought them on the street, but the very first pills came with a doctor's prescription. The ailment? A sprained ankle.
Stader remembers being shocked silent. Earlier that same day he had seen a patient with a severe ankle sprain. He had prescribed an opioid.