The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

Help End Opioid-Related Deaths

By: Kevin Patterson, DDS, MD
Past President MDDS, Current CDA Vice President, member BOD JPOIAA

Dental providers continue to do their part to minimize the number of narcotic prescriptions and number of pills given to their patients; however, unfortunately, the numbers still tell a tragic story. Despite years of public awareness campaigns, hours of training focused on the medical and dental communities and the passage of multiple laws regarding opioid prescribing and reporting, opioid-related deaths have reached an all-time high. According to the CDC, there were 81,692 opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States for the 12-month period ending in April 2022. That was an increase of just over 5,000 deaths from the previous year, a continuation of an upward trajectory that began in 2019.

While lives continue to be lost to the misuse of prescription opioids and mixing opioids with benzodiazepines, they pale when compared to deaths caused by fentanyl. According to the CDC, fentanyl-related deaths increased 12 percent between 2020 and 2021 and it is now responsible for at least 70 percent of all drug deaths. The emergence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, represents an escalation of the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic.

With fentanyl now accounting for such a high percentage of opioid-related deaths, and with the risks associated with taking opioids and benzodiazepines remaining high, the JP Opioid Interaction Awareness Alliance, which has historically focused on the dangers of mixing opioids and benzodiazepine, has added raising awareness about fentanyl’s dangers to its list of priorities.

In 2012 JPOIAA’s namesake, James Patrick (JP) Carroll, lost his life after taking an opioid and a benzo. To honor his memory and the memories of the thousands of others who have been lost to this epidemic, the Alliance hosts an annual golf tournament. The funds raised at the event support scholarship programs for pharmacy students at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and at the Regis University Pharmacy School. The funds also support the Alliance’s public education efforts.

This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, July 14 at The Ridge at Castle Pines. While golfing for an important cause, you can enjoy a course rated by GolfPass as one of the 10 best in the Denver area and win one of many great prizes including airline tickets, high-value gift cards and tickets to a Colorado Avalanche game. To learn about the event and to register, visit our registration website.

Please help our cause to help continue the fight to prevent the unnecessary loss of life due to prescription opioids. One more death due to opioid misuse is ONE TOO MANY!

The Articulate Dentist is a blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society, providing members with insight into the dental industry, practice management tips, tech trends and best practices as well as Society news and updates.