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Doctors from Across Virginia Meet for Conference to Discuss Opioid Abuse

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Doctors with the Virginia Pain Society met on Feb. 3-4 Doctors with the Virginia Pain Society met on Feb. 3-4
Opioid abuse has been a growing issue in Virginia Opioid abuse has been a growing issue in Virginia
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A group of Virginia doctors who treat patients in pain is leading the charge to battle opioid abuse.

The Virginia Pain Society hosted its inaugural conference on Saturday, February 3, and Sunday, February 4, in Albemarle County to discuss ways to reduce the crisis in the commonwealth.

“Anything used to treat pain is dangerous,” says Dr. Anthony Dragovich, the director of the Virginia Pain Society.

The society is taking aim at curbing the commonwealth's opioid epidemic, which has been growing in recent years.

“Prescription opiods have been an issue in Virginia for 17 years; patients have always had issues with overdosing from them because they’re dangerous medications,” says Dragovich.

Doctors with a variety of backgrounds from all across Virginia met this weekend for the society’s inaugural conference.

“It's the doctors here - the pain specialists in Virginia - that said we need to do this, we need to have our society so that we can network and create broader expertise,” says Fred Wells Brason II, the president and CEO of Project Lazarus.

The doctors’ goal is to find the best ways to treat pain while also limiting opioid use.

“Whether it’s injections or it’s devices that are implanted so that individuals are as free from pain as possible, and helping patients to learn how to function with whatever pain that they do have,” says Brason.

Doctors say their mission is not just about eliminating the addictive drugs as a treatment option.

“The issue is to give the right treatment to the right patient at the right time,” says Dragovich.

Brason agrees that the prescription of opioids is not necessarily the issue at hand.

“Opioids still have a place treating pain, we just want to make sure it’s safe and responsible so sharing expertise is one of the best ways to do that,” says Brason.

According to doctors, one way to prevent overdoses is by prescribing naloxone along with opioids, which can be used to reverse the effects of an accidental overdose.

“Co-prescribing, yes, is very, very important because, one, you’re educating the patient, family, and caregiver to look at those signs and symptoms because just accidental use of your medication - and you weren’t trying to do anything wrong - but if you did, then you can reverse that,” says Brason.

The Virginia Pain Society is made up of doctors from across the commonwealth and sponsored by the Project Lazarus, a nonprofit that was founded to fight opioid abuse.

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