According to local law enforcement officials, narcotic drug abuse is a serious problem all across America today, and Gordon County is certainly not immune. In addition to interfering with social, family, home, school or work responsibilities, narcotic drug abuse is also deadly as proven by the recent headline-making fatalities of several celebrities.
“We all hear about the young, famous celebrities that succumb to the effects of misuse or mixing of narcotics, but we rarely hear of the countless others who die as a result of taking a drug when not needed or taking more than is prescribed,” said Gordon County Sherriff Mitch Ralston. “This is a rapidly becoming a problem of epidemic proportions in America and right here at home.”
Calhoun Police Chief Garry Moss agrees.
“We are seeing more and more cases each year involving illegal narcotic use,” Chief Moss said. “This problem affects people of all ages, races, and socio-economic levels. Even our children are being affected – either by accidental ingestion or intentional misuse.”
According to Jennie Banks, RN, director of critical care services at Gordon Hospital, the scope of the problem has prompted a new emergency center policy that deals specifically with safe narcotic use.
“The treatment of pain is, of course, a patient right,” Banks said, “However, we also recognize that not all pain is best managed by narcotics or other medications that can impair mental clarity, reflexes or respiratory function.”
As of Aug. 1, the Gordon Hospital Emergency Center physicians no longer prescribe narcotics, or other controlled substances (Lortab, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Dilaudid, Valium, Soma, etc) for chronic, non-malignant pain conditions such as headaches, back pain, toothache, non-cardiac chest pain, or for patients who frequently visit the emergency center for pain control medications, Banks explained.
“We will treat these conditions with other appropriate medications such as Triptans for headaches or NSAIDS for musculoskeletal pain,” she added. “We will also attempt to help our emergency center patients in finding a physician or other appropriate healthcare provider who can assist them with long term management of a chronic pain conditions.”
The large number of overdose cases seen in the emergency center recently confirms the need for this new policy, said Jackie Miller, MD, medical director of Gordon Hospital’s Emergency Center.
“Over the past 12 months, we have treated more than 600 patients for alcohol and drug addiction,” Dr. Miller. “More than 300 of those cases involved drug overdoses.”
By implementing the policy, Gordon Hospital officials hope to help reduce accidental deaths from medication mixing or misuse, reduce narcotic dependency and addiction, reduce prescription drug abuse in the community and schools, and reduce accidental ingestion and poisoning of small children.
“We applaud Gordon Hospital’s efforts to help alleviate this serious problem in our community,” Sheriff Ralston added. “By working together, we can make Gordon County a safer place to live, work, and raise our children.”