The Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce and its Health & Wellness Committee is taking an aggressive approach to fight the opioid epidemic being witnessed not only in Indian River County, but also statewide and nationally.
On September 21, it hosted the “Opioid Crisis Summit…An Equal Opportunity Destroyer”. The summit was presented to increase the general public’s knowledge of opioid and prescription drug abuse and to connect the public with resources to aid in the prevention and treatment of opioid/prescription drug addiction and abuse. Over 100 participants heard from a dozen speakers.
According to Theresa Tolle, pharmacist and owner of Bay Street Pharmacy and chairman of the Health and Wellness Committee, statistics reveal that one in four persons who are prescribed opioids are at risk of becoming addicted after taking only a small quantity of the drug.
According to the FDOH, a reported 78 opioid overdoses in 2017 occurred in Indian River County; 471 on the Treasure Coast.
Members of the Health and Wellness Committee include: Samantha Coy; Meg Cunningham; Stephanie Nelson, VNA of the Treasure Coast; Brett Hall, Mental Health Collaborative; Steve Hellyer; Vicki Soule, Treasure Coast Community Health; Nancy Johnson, Plan B Laughing Lady; Carrie Lester, Substance Awareness Center of IRC; Beth Mitchell, Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce; and Shelley Stuven, Indian River County Medical Society
Indian River County Medical Society member and past president Harold Cordner, MD., touched on physicians’ obligation to treat pain and screen for potential abuse of opioids. He said more and more physicians are now choosing not to prescribe opioids for pain due to the uptick in the number of lawsuits against physicians for over-prescribing. Dr. Cordner also discussed new limits that are now in place for prescribing pain medication for acute pain (HB 21).
The summit, sponsored by the Indian River County Medical Society and Substance Abuse Free Indian River, closed with comments from IRCMS Executive Director Shelley Stuven. She said, “Opioid addiction is a horrendous disease. The addict, as well as the entire family, suffer through it. She added, “Talking about this type of problem takes away the mystery of what addiction is all about. There is a lot of negativity attached to this disease, and I congratulate all of you here today for wanting to learn more about it and to wanting to be a part of the solution.”
The Opioid Crisis Summit is available to view in its entirety at the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce website at https://www.sebastianchamber.com/press-media/opioid-crisis-summit.
Substance Abuse and Treatment Resources are also available for download on the Chamber website as well as the IRCMS website https://ircms.org/Community-Resources.html.