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As a mom and registered nurse of over 20 years, I am very concerned about the opioid crisis occurring today.

I spent many years as a NICU nurse caring for infants who were born addicted to opioids and experienced withdrawal in the early days of their lives. Many of these infants’ mothers were not heroin or cocaine addicts. They were moms like me who had suffered from an unfortunate event, a car accident or a back injury, and had been prescribed a opioid pain medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11.5 million Americans age 12 or older reported misusing prescription opioids. Many physicians carelessly prescribe these drugs. I saw this with my own son, who was prescribed a strong narcotic after a dental procedure at the age of 15.

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Physicians must prescribe with care and monitor these patients. An article in The Clinical Journal of Pain explains how calculating the total daily dose of opioids helps identify patients who may benefit from closer monitoring, reduction or tapering of opioids, prescribing of naloxone, or other measures to reduce risk of overdose.

There were 74 deaths in York County in 2017 from opioid overdoses. Health care professionals need to take a bigger role in preventing these deaths. Chronic pain is a serious medical problem that leads to drug abuse. There are alternative medical treatments that could be used, if approved by insurance companies. This would lessen the need for medications.

The health care community can no longer sit by and continue to think this is just a street drug problem. Many times in their efforts to care for patients, medical professionals are destroying their lives.

— Tara Patmore is an RN-BSN student at Millersville University.

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