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The Journal Gazette

  • Myers

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 1:00 am

The mayor matters

Crawford can bring medical perspective to city's raging opioid crisis

Dr. Scott Nagel Myers

Dr. Scott Nagel Myers of Fort Wayne is a pediatric oncologist affiliated with Indiana University.

I am very concerned about the opioid crisis.

The National Institutes of Health recently reported that between 21 percent and 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain will misuse them, and more than 115 Americans are dying from opioid abuse every day. Between 2016 and 2017, opioid addiction in the Midwest increased more than 70 percent.

Fortunately, the NIH has pursued solutions based on such strategies as improving pain management, using longer-acting opioids and medications aimed at curbing cravings. Yet there is still skepticism about the biological nature of this national – and local – crisis. NIH data confirm that 8 percent to 12 percent of patients prescribed opioids for pain control will develop an opioid-use disorder. For those genetically predisposed to “react” to opioids (with vulnerability to the reward experienced), they always find that, in the words of Narcotics Anonymous, “one dose is too many and a thousand is never enough.”

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Dr. John Crawford has outlined a strategy for Fort Wayne in line with the mentioned solutions, which were distilled from the top addiction experts worldwide. Dr. Crawford stated that our “primary approach needs to be to increase availability of high-quality treatment and recovery programs here” that offer more medication-assisted treatment, which is now the standard of care.

He states we need to avoid the stigma about substance-use disorder and look at it as a medical affliction just like other diseases.

He summarized the best diagnostic, treatment and preventive strategies for Fort Wayne in his Aug. 3 Journal Gazette article, “Crisis proportions.”

He also has a vision on how to coordinate and escalate state resources – which are currently among the lowest in the nation. Additional aspects of his plan include encouraging mentorship for young people and innovative approaches to stopping crime.

Another attribute of his leadership has to do with process – just as in medicine, Dr. Crawford is systematically committed to being available and listening to others. He has a record of working in an additive fashion with all people who have something to bring to the table. Dr. Crawford is working to advance solutions along with The Lutheran Foundation, Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, Parkview Hospital and many others. For those affected, you should talk to your primary-care provider.

It is time to access a new team with new ideas based in current research data, innovation and the heartfelt compassion that comes with serving patients in medical life, especially oncology. The same physician who has spent a career taking 3 a.m. phone calls is best poised to bring that same work ethic and godly compassion to life-changing solutions for Fort Wayne citizens.

Dr. John Crawford is a gently spoken man who walks softly while pursuing big results. It is time for city government leaders to get more actively involved in solving this crisis, and Dr. Crawford will work diligently to accomplish this.