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    Chris Wooten serves on the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee

How to save lives from opioids

Dealing with the other pandemic

By Rep. Chris Wooten

Special to the Chronicle

As all of us deal with the covid-19 pandemic, let us not forget about another epidemic that continues to affect families : opioid abuse and overdose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 450,000 Americans have died from opioid-related overdoses since 1999. 
Over the past several years, our state and federal leaders have enacted policies that will help end this crisis. In 2017, the President declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and our governor formed a South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Team to combat this epidemic. 
That same year, South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas created the Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee to identify solutions to this epidemic. I serve on this committee and am proud of what we have done for prevention, treatment and recovery.
While we have made significant progress to end this public health emergency, there is still more work to be done. 
On the federal level, the CDC is considering updating its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. 
One of the policy proposals that has been submitted to the CDC is to recommend prescribers to consider a Schedule III drug before recommending a Schedule II if they determine that opioids are necessary. 
The guidelines do not distinguish between Schedule II and III opioids. But Schedule III opioids have less risk for abuse and dependence than Schedule II.
Updating this guideline to make prescribing drugs with the reduced potential for respiratory depression and lower risk of abuse and addiction would save lives. 
For us to end the opioid epidemic once and for all, we must continue to implement common-sense policies. I encourage the CDC to consider this common-sense change to help fight opioid abuse and overdose.

   Chris Wooten is a member of the SC House (District 69) representing Lexington County. 

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