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Michiana E.R. doctors see effects of opioid crisis first-hand

ELKHART, Ind. - It has become a daily occurrence for Emergency Room doctors: a patient comes in showing clear signs of an overdose.

Dr. David VanRyn, an ER physician at Elkhart General, says the current opioid crisis is the worst he has ever seen.

Dr. VanRyn has worked in emergency medicine for 35 years. He said solving the opioid crisis starts with preventing new addictions. It will take a team approach between doctors, researchers and patients.

"It's a combination of prescribing patterns, looking at alternative methods of pain management," he said, "trying to help educate our patients to understand that you can't really have an injury or surgery or something and expect not to have any pain."

When it comes to those who are already addicted, the emergency room is just the first stop on a long road to recovery.

"In the ER, we mostly focus on the acute overdoses and the medical and emotional complications that come from their addictions," Dr. VanRyn said. "We partner with other people within our health system and others in the community to try and provide those resources because it's difficult for us to provide that in the ER. That's where the partnership comes in with others in the community, the Health Department, addiction services to work together to try and help them with their recovery."

Dr. VanRyn said combating the opioid crisis will take a lot of community involvement. If you know someone struggling with addiction, be supportive, and point them toward resources when they are ready to get help.

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