COLUMBUS – The subject of opioid abuse has been getting national headlines because of high addiction rates and numerous deaths associated with the prescription medication.

Because of its accessibility and addictive qualities, pain-relieving medications can rapidly consume people’s lives if they are taken in excess or for an extended period of time. Without careful precautions any person can be vulnerable to the medication’s numbing effects, said Dorothy Bybee, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Columbus Community Hospital.

“This is your neighbor, your friends, the people you work with,” Bybee said during a Monday interview with the Telegram. “They are normal people, and sometimes when you think of addiction you think of people who are down-and-out, and that’s not the case. It (opioids) crosses all socioeconomic lines.”

In an effort to educate area community members, CCH is hosting a Pain Symposium from 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. June 22 at the Ramada Columbus Hotel & Conference Center. The symposium, “2018: The Opioid Epidemic and Current State of Pain Management in America,” highlights key components of the epidemic, which causes at least 115 U.S. deaths daily, information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says.

The Pain Management Symposium speakers will be Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and researcher at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dr. Phillip Essay with Nebraska Spine + Pain Center.

Makary is the author of “Unacceptable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care,” and is a national advocate for transparency in health care, released information from CCH says. He will speak on patient empowerment through increased transparency of medical information. Makary speaks nationally on the future of health care, accountability in medicine and how new innovations can streamline health systems.

Essay is in private practice as a pain management specialist in Omaha and Lincoln. He will be discussing rational controlled substance management, released information says. He will talk about procedures to safely initiate opioid therapy, minimize irregular opioid behavior and implement opioid exit strategies.

While opioid abuse is a national problem, its effects are being seen in Nebraska, too. Bybee said that from 1999-2016, the number of opioid-related deaths in the state have quadrupled and that hospitalization for drug dependency per 100,000 people increased 28 percent from 2007 to 2014. In addition, annual opioid-related overdose death rates rose from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 3 per 100,000 people in 2015.

“It shows that we continue to have a prescription drug crisis,” she said of the statistics. “It’s abuse and addiction, and frankly, some of it can be attributed to what our society’s understanding of pain is – we want to always be pain free. And after surgery or something similar, there is going to be that pain and discomfort, and it’s difficult to give you total release in a bottle without the risk of there being side effects, one of which can be addiction.”

One talking point at the symposium includes alternate remedies for pain management, including Complementary Therapy for pain management.

“These can be physical therapy, massages, essential oils, mindfulness training and distraction techniques,” Bybee said. “So then we don’t constantly always go to a medication.”

Get involved

For more information about the Pain Management Symposium, including pricing, those interested are encouraged to contact CCH’s Education Department at 402-562-3320.

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