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Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

The nationwide opioid crisis has taken a serious turn in recent years. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, over 42,000 opioid-related deaths took place in 2016, with over 11 million people misusing some form of opioids that same year. Dr. Harold Bolnick, Medical Director of the Utica Park Clinic Pain Management & Wellness Center, specializes in addiction medicine. We spoke with Dr. Bolnick on the multi-faceted approach that is needed to fight the opioid crisis and the type of care that is available to help those struggling with addiction.

“In the past, opiates were marketed to patients, physicians and the public, which is what led to the current crisis,” stated Dr. Bolnick. “In the 1990s, we were educated on a different matter of thinking, unaware of the addictions one might face when prescribed opiates. It took many years for the issues to be recognized. Because of the social and economic factors associated with the opioid epidemic, we have to educate everyone: the public, patients, physicians and pharmacies. When used for acute pain, opioids have a short-term effect. Long-term use is what lead to the current opioid crisis in the United States. This is a serious problem and we want everyone to know that pain can be handled without the use of opiates.”

Dr. Bolnick now performs a procedure that can reduce the need for opiates following surgery. “Iovera Analgesia is a procedure that numbs nerves through freezing,” explained Dr. Bolnick. “The numbing of the nerves tells the body that opiates are not needed. Iovera Analgesia is being used for total joint replacements, especially in the knee area. If you are having a total knee replacement, the nerves are numbed prior to the surgery, which allows for more pain relief and less opiate need.”

There are also medications that can used in place of opiates, as well as medications that can wean individuals off of opiates.

Dr. Bolnick highlights the resources that are available to help fight opioid addiction. “If you have problems with opiates, reach out to someone that can help,” said Dr. Bolnick. “We are here and want to help you with recovery. This is a problem that can be addressed and fixed when help is sought. It takes a collective approach with hands on deck from every individual involved. You are never alone in fighting these battles.”


To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bolnick or to learn more about his pain management and addiction management practices, please call 918-579-2791.