As the nation's opioid addiction epidemic continues to rise, dozens of physicians from local emergency departments gathered Thursday evening to discuss methods of preventing even further growth. 

Michael Rocha, cardiologist at Hawthorn Medical Associates and co-founder of Physicians to Prevent Opioid Addiction, hosted Thursday's discussion at the Waterfront Grille in New Bedford and said it was time for physicians to take on a proactive approach to the issue.

"As we're being blamed for being part of the problem we also have to step up to the plate and be part of the solution," Rocha told the crowd of nearly 80 doctors and nurses.

David Casavant of Boston Children's Hospital addressed the group about how to use alternative methods of pain management and treatment, leaving opioids as a sort of last resort. He even listed methods useful distraction methods such as breathing exercises, music/relaxation and rest as useful treatments.

"The non-pharmacological treatments of pain can be helpful because you don't need to always be reaching for medication to relieve your pain," Casavant said. "That's one of the main drivers of using all the tools that we might have at our disposal."

Casavant also touched on the difficulties of treating chronic pain with opioids and the latest guidelines released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One such guideline recommends physicians offer naloxone (Narcan) to patients with a risk factors for opioid overdose, including "history of overdose, history of substance use disorder, higher opioid dosages (≥50 MME/day), or concurrent benzodiazepine use..."

"It's like having a spare tire in your car," Casavant said. "You use it when you need'll get you out of that spot for right then and it has the potential to save lives."

Though Thursday's event was geared toward the professional healthcare field, Physicians to Prevent Opioid Addiction will host a town hall event Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Zeiterion Theater for a community discussion on opioid addiction.

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