GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Every day in this country, more than 130 people die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

St. Francis emergency room physician Dr. Kevin Mewborn has seen both sides of the opioid epidemic, in prescribing and treating.

“I also work at Crossroads Treatment Center where I treat opiate addicted patients,” Dr. Mewborn says. “So I started doing that and it’s taught me quite a bit.”

He stresses that doctors need to recommend natural treatments for chronic pain before prescribing narcotics, such as ibuprofen, ice, rest heat, physical therapy, meditation and mindfulness.

If you have prescription opiates in the house, he also recommends having an opioid reversal emergency drug on hand

“They can have a prescription for Neloxone. That can be used to reverse the effects if there is an accidental or intentional overdose,” he says.

Dr. Mewborn especially recommends having that overdose reversal drug on hand if you have prescription opiates and teenagers at home and reminds parents to lock medication, then discard after use.

He’s also seeing opioid addiction lead to other drugs use and heroin overdose.

“More and more people are having to resort to heroin because there’s been a decrease in the pills being prescribed, and in that heroin it’s being cut with fentanyl,” he says.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 80 percent of Americans who use heroin now started by misusing prescription opioids. 

“Certainly, when opiods are necessary, they’re necessary, and they can be very helpful,” he says. “We’ve just got to do it in the appropriate manner and maybe in a shorter period of time.”

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