House Bill would give alternatives to opioids

As narcotic prescriptions are dropping nationally, the illicit substances trend is going up. (KOTA TV)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota has been facing an opioid crisis, and now one house bill is trying to give doctors more options when it comes to prescribing drugs.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes opioids as a powerful class of drugs used to reduce pain. They can also be highly addictive.

An anesthesiologist and pain medicine doctor says opioids can be broadly prescribed to treat anything and everything.

"Opioids was once described to me when you're prescribing it, as if you have a car that has a bad engine, that's making a bad noise, it's kind of throwing a blanket over it," said Dr. John Butz, an anesthesiologist and pain medicine doctor at Monument Health. "You don't hear it as much, but you're not specifically addressing the actual issue."

South Dakota House Bill 1219 would mandate health care professionals try other options for pain management besides opioids.

Some of the alternatives to opioids include occupational therapy, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, noninvasive procedures, or simply other medication.

"We know that addressing pain in a different manner potentially will A.) avoid some of the pitfalls that we saw with opioids, but we also realize that maybe they are better than opioids themselves when it comes to treating pain," said Butz. "If you can address something very specifically, as opposed to generically, it might be a better option."

Butz thinks opioids will still have a role moving forward, but hopes that role will be well defined and paired with other treatment options.

"I think what you see in the legislation is what our national societies have been putting together for the past few years," said Butz. "The CDC in conjunction with a number of different organizations, back in 2016, they started discussing a lot of this in terms of the opioids. What they really did was lay out a platform, saying you can consider all of these other options. So, I think in a sense, this has been going on for a number of different years and it hasn't been at, you know, the state level in terms of a legislative process."

House Bill 1219 is scheduled to come before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, February 18.