RX Task Force’s Lunch and Learn series ends, opioid conversation ongoing | SteamboatToday.com

RX Task Force’s Lunch and Learn series ends, opioid conversation ongoing

Amy Goodwin, who is a licensed professional counselor and certified addiction counselor, speaks about cognitive behavioral therapy during the final RX Task Force Lunch and Learn presentation Wednesday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When the RX Task Force took center stage last year with the Lunch and Learn Series, founder Mara Rhodes was hoping to start a conversation.

"Talking about this is the first step in changing this problem," Rhodes told the crowd that had gathered inside Bud Werner Memorial Library’s Library Hall Wednesday for the final installment of a three-week lunch and learn series that focused on the issue of opioid addiction.

The last session featured three medical professionals who spoke about the approaches, expectations and the changing world of pain treatment in the Steamboat Springs community. The presentations addressed the expectations patients have when they go to the doctor or the emergency room, the behavioral science that surrounds pain and alternatives that are available to help ease pain.

Amy Goodwin, a licensed professional counselor and certified addiction counselor, talked about cognitive behavioral therapy, and its use in identifying and treating many behavioral health issues that lead to substance abuse. 

“The treatment of both mental and medical disorders is most effective when they  are treated in a comprehensive manner, and cognitive behavioral therapy can be just one of the many different treatment modalities that may increase the likelihood of positive outcomes along the use of medication, psychotropic medications for disorders,” Goodwin said. "I don’t think the mental health of medical community is best served by trying to create a claim on the most effective treatment as just being one treatment approach or another. Research suggest that the single treatment approach is not as effective as comprehensive modalities.”

Registered naturopathic doctor Michelle Hana Linet talked about new therapies and the use of herbs, yoga, tai chi and other alternative treatments to deal with addiction.

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The final speaker was Alexis Tracy, who recently joined Steamboat Spine Center & Orthopedics of Steamboat as an osteopathic physician. She moved to Steamboat from West Virginia, a state with one of the highest opioid death rates in the country.

Her experiences as a medical provider in communities where opioid use is rampant gave her a unique perspective.

"There are so many reasons — social, mental and physical — to avoid giving these medications (opioids) long term," Tracy said. "I'm OK giving them short term . . . for very short short periods of time. I think most doctors see the value and patients too. I think patients start to freak out when you start to say no opioids for any reason."

She said she believes the medical industry has a responsibility to ensure prescription drug use it limited to those who truly need it. Patients, she said, have access to alternatives when it comes to dealing with pain, and those alternatives should be among the main options offered in emergency rooms, at hospitals and in healthcare facilities.

"This is something I don't want you to feel despair about," Tracy said. "I think there are many, many people who care about the situation and have loved ones affected, or who have had their practices affected, and we want it to go the other way, and we are moving in that direction."

"People kind of have this idea about what prescription drug addiction looks like or what this looks like in a family, and it's really not quite that simple,” Rhodes concluded. “It's a really complex issue, and the more we talk about this problem, the faster it will become less of a problem."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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