Health care workers learn about Ada County's opioid crisis

Posted at 5:16 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 19:16:35-05

Opioids, a powerful painkiller, is often prescribed to those who suffer a heart attack or experience congestive heart failure. Now, new light is being shed on the impact opioids have on heart health, whether through prolonged use or abuse. 

“We see this expressed in new types of cardiomyopathy, we see dysrhythmias, and we certainly see sudden death related to overdose,” said Stefanie Fry, St. Luke’s Heart Executive Medical Director.

During the annual Heart and Vascular Symposium at St. Luke’s in Boise Friday, Feb. 2, health care workers learned more about Ada County’s opioid epidemic.

“People might get a prescription for a legitimate medical purpose, but one is good, two is better, and three must be fantastic,” said Charles Wahl, an investigator with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). 

Law enforcement says the two most common opiates in the area include oxycodone and fentanyl.

Prescription fraud, abuse and criminal distribution are three aspects of the epidemic the U.S. Attorney’s Office is cracking down on. 

“When we’re prosecuting a case and we have individuals who have been over-prescribed opioids,” said Darci Ward, Assistant U.S. Attorney. “You also see the real human impact beyond that, in that, you know, this is a destruction of their life, their family’s lives and overall quality of life.”

When asked for a solution to curb the epidemic, experts say education and discussing the dangers behind these powerful drugs could make a difference.

Ada County is already gearing up for its second opioid crisis series. It’s planned for April 19 at the Ten Mile Christian Church in Meridian.