NITRO, W.Va. — The problems surrounding opioids were discussed among citizens of Nitro and surrounding areas with distinguished guests on Saturday.

The city of Nitro hosted a forum on strategies to prevent and treat opioid abuse at the city’s Council Chambers. Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt hosted multiple leaders from the Kanawha Valley to lead the event.

“The cities and the state are dealing with a huge opioid problem,” he said. “Bringing people like this together from all legislative levels, federal and state, to discuss ways to address it is a good idea.”

One of the leading topics of how to prevent opioid abuse was alternatives for patients. Among those guests at the forum was former DHHR Deputy Secretary Shana Phares, and she gave her insight on alternatives.

“There are non-opioid painkillers that can be used after surgery so that a patient can transition and have their acute care taken care of,” she said. “After that short time period of time when they are discharged from the hospital, they can go home and look to ibuprofen.”

“Really skip having to use an opioid and have that in their medicine cabinet at home.”

Phares did say there are impediments those alternatives.

“Opioids are a familiar drug to doctors, they are really inexpensive,” she said. “Medicare readily reimburses for opioids but there are new more expensive drugs which are an improvement of what we got but they are only partially reimbursed by Medicare.

“Medicare doesn’t reimbursement them at all facilities. What we are really looking at is expanding access to doctors and surgeons have access to more appropriate drugs for their patients.”

Other guests and keynote speakers included Dr. Lindsey Acree, an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Charleston, and Mark Drennan, the executive director of the West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association.

“We really wanted to open a conversation to talk about what is going on in our communities and how we can look to alternatives to opioids so people don’t become addictive in the first place,” Phares said.

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