Jennifer Van Deusen discusses alternatives to opioids on WMTW

About one in five Americans suffer from chronic pain, making it one of the most common reasons people seek medical care.

For years, doctors relied heavily on opioids for treatment. It was the beginning of what we now know as the opioid epidemic.

Both the medical and political communities have since responded, rolling out regulations to stem opioid misuse and revising treatment options for conditions such as chronic pain.

Now, doctors are shifting to alternative treatments, ranging from osteopathic medicine to medication-assisted treatment (MAT)-that is, using FDA-approved medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

WMTW spoke with Jenifer Van Deusen, M.Ed., interprofessional education coordinator at UNE COM, about physician assistant students and medical students learning to use MAT, which has been scientifically proven as the best practice in treating opioid use disorders.

“There’s a particular focus of finding the health in the patient,” Van Deusen told WMTW.

Research shows that two Tylenol and one ibuprofen taken together can be as effective as an opioid.

“We teach students how to use over the counter things, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, to deal with pain,” Van Deusen stated. “They are not addictive.”

New laws limit prescriptions for strong pain medications, part of an overall push to get away from prescribing opioids.

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