Tennessee Medical Association president addresses opioid crisis in Chattanooga
At Monday's monthly regional Health Council meeting in Chattanooga, speaker Dr. Nita Schumaker focused her message on the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Schumaker is the president of the Tennessee Medical Association. She's also a local pediatrician in Chattanooga. She's giving presentations to physicians across the state. Dr. Schumaker gave a tweaked presentation to the regional meeting on Monday.
Tennessee is number two in the nation for prescribing opioid painkillers. That's from a 2016 report, and Dr. Schumaker believes those numbers will actually be much better when new numbers are released from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Dr. Schumaker says health issues contribute to the addiction. Obesity, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise contributes to pain, and she says that's where the cycle begins. She says one way to stop the cycle is by cleaning out your medicine cabinet.
"The first thing I want people to know is to go empty your medicine cabinet," said Dr. Schumaker. "It is imperative that those medicines do not sit in our cabinets, as 80% of heroin users start with a prescription opioid, and not their own necessarily."
Dr. Schumaker says if you suspect a loved one is dealing with an opioid addiction; talk to their physician. You can even make an anonymous phone call.