Oral Surgeon Fights to Change How His Profession Deals with Addiction

Opioid prescription rates for dentists are higher than any other specialty. These prescription opioids—the amount in the public arena and their addictive characteristics—have been attributed as a major cause of the opioid epidemic. With more than 12% of all opioid prescriptions coming out of dentists’ offices, dental patients have had the opportunity to amass inventories of these opioids.

One oral surgeon aims to change this trend at the specialty level. After an overdose tragedy befell his family, Dr. Omar Abubaker has changed his prescription practices and taken this shift into the classroom. As a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, Dr. Abudaker teaches his students about pain duration and pain management, and non-narcotic pain relievers that serve as an alternative to opioids. He believes that he and his colleagues are set to “graduate a generation of dentists way ahead of where we are today.”

Through a reassessment in education and policy, an overall change in prescription practices across all specialties can reduce the stream of opioids. Beacon promotes this approach to alternative and non-opioid pain management methods, as well as the retooling of training across all disciplines in order to inform providers how they can do their part to stem this epidemic. While this not a silver bullet to solve the opioid epidemic by itself, when combined with education, research, treatment and supportive (non-punitive) legislation, this change is effective, important and welcomed.

Read Dr. Abubaker’s full story on STAT.