Efforts to combat the opioid crisis in Gooding County
The Walker Center and North Canyon Medical Center are making strides to save lives against the opioid epidemic
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Opioid addiction crosses over every age, every gender and every socio-economic factor.
“It’s not the stereotype of the poor uneducated person using heroin,” said Deborah Thomas, who is the CEO and a licensed professional counselor, the Walker Center. “We have college educated people, we have the 70 year old grandma who had an injury or hurt her leg or her shoulder. These are actual clients who ended up coming here, because it snuck up on them.”
Each year, the number one reason for treatment at the Walker Center, always switches off between alcohol and opioids. Since the pandemic, admissions rose by 40% at the drug recovery facility.
Thomas says, it’s because of the heightened anxiety and depression these times have caused. “We’ve seen more people calling and saying ‘I’m concerned about myself or I’m concerned about my loved one’ since the pandemic happened. The person that gets addicted, they get hopeless on how can I ever stop? Because there is a physical aspect, along with the emotional part.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 128 people die from opioid overdose every day and it’s considered an epidemic.
“When you stop using your opiate, you have this significant rebound effect that causes you to have symptoms that are like the worst flu ever. Sweating, shaking, cramping, abdominal pain,” described Thomas.
In an effort to prevent opioid addiction, North Canyon Medical Center’s anesthesia team, has designed an opioid free surgery program.
“We have had different patients come in that have had a history of substance abuse and opioid use,” said Paul Dickinson, who is the chief of the Anesthesia Department and a certified registered nurse anesthetists at North Canyon Medical Center. “Using some of these opioid free techniques it’s really allowed us to let them have the surgeries they need, without having to cause them to relapse or go back into some of the bad habits that they’ve had.”
Both North Canyon Medical Center and the Walker Center, have one goal in mind… that is to save lives.
“People will say, you saved my life. We’ll have people that will tell us they were want opioid away from wanting to suicide,” said Thomas.
“We’re able to not only improve the lives of the people, but to be the change we want to see,” said Dickinson.
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