Spartanburg surgeon’s mission to combat opioid epidemic expanding

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A weapon to help fight an epidemic during a pandemic. A surgeon at Spartanburg Regional has been working on something that’s getting a lot of attention.

A simple solution to a need growing fast.

“I would have so many patients that come in who are already addicted to pain medication so prior to even us taking them to surgery, they’re already on a lot more medications than I would recommend,” said Doctor with Spartanburg Regional, Gregory Paul Colbath.

Dr. Gregory Colbath has seen it all firsthand, especially since the pandemic began.

“It makes sense, people are isolated. A lot of people are unemployed right now,” Dr. Colbath said.

That’s why he decided to do something about it. That’s passing out Deterra pouches to his patients.

“I’ve been providing these bags over the last year and a half to my patients,” said Dr. Colbath.

Dr. Colbath told 7 News, they are environmentally-sound drug deactivation systems.

“It’s basically a charcoal powder which when you add the water to the bag of the pills, it will help deactivate the drug but also sequester this,” explained Dr. Colbath.

Dr. Colbath said the goal is to prevent the opportunity for pills to be misused or abused. It’s a sight he told us plagues just about every home medicine cabinet out there, leftover pills. He said even if these pills are just sitting there, they’re still dangerous.

“Even if the patient does not have an addictive personality, having it there as a potential source for other people to come across, that’s where the danger lies,” said Dr. Colbath.

His journey to combat the opioid epidemic is now trickling to other parts of the hospital. He was given a grant from the Spartanburg Regional Foundation to expand his mission.

“Now our goal is to provide this throughout our pre-operative discussion so all of our patients who are going to have surgery and potentially have an opioid prescription provided to them, would have this and have this discussion on the front end,” Dr. Colbath told 7 News.

As Dr. Colbath continues his fight, he’s hoping these efforts will spill over to other parts of the upstate.

“It’s not just one physician that can do this, we need a system-wide approach. We need to be involved as a community,” said Dr. Colbath.

These pouches are available at some drugstores as well. Through the month of October, people across the upstate and beyond can go online to get one for free. October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Here’s a link to more information on Deterra: https://deterrasystem.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw28T8BRDbARIsAEOMBcxUxSbuFlIyPRTSkMsIK3VNvsWXyxROA1aJt8rRNBGpaRjwjL0w4isaAiTZEALw_wcB

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