published on October 3, 2017 - 1:41 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Local experts on the prescription drug abuse problem will be holding a town hall forum organized by Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno).

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that nationwide, more than 40 people die every die from overdosing on pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin—more than the number of car accidents every day. Opioid overdose rates in the Central Valley are higher than the state average and several organizations have been taking steps to make an impact.

“We all know someone whose life has been impacted by prescription drug abuse,” Patterson said. “These aren’t bad people or lifelong criminals—many of them are standout athletes, successful business owners or even stay-at-home moms—the new face of drug abuse is the one looking back at you in the mirror.”

The town hall, which will take place at the G.L. Johnson Chapel at Peoples Church on Monday, will include Dr. Michael Habibe, a former Naval flight surgeon and practicing emergency physician at Saint Agnes Medical Center. Habib is also a member of the Central Valley Opioid Safety Coalition, a growing group of local health care professionals working to adopt local, “safe prescribing” guidelines that have been implemented in other parts of the state and nation.

These practices are geared to preventing “over-prescribing” that has so often contributed to addiction and overdose. They help hospital providers, hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement use a consistent and informed approach toward opioid use.

“The massive amount of opiate prescriptions has brought with it increased overdoses, dangerous interactions with other legal and illicit drugs, doctor and hospital shopping, falls and accidents, broken families, increased substance abuse with mental illness, disability and homelessness, not to mention the devastating costs to our health care system an society,” Dr. Habibe said.

Other panelists will include Flint Anderson, a former addict and founder of Parents and Addicts in Need, Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County District Attorney and Dr. Peter Abaci, co-founder of Bay Area Pain & Wellness Center.

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