Honolulu (KHON2) – A closer look at the prescription painkiller problem in Hawaii reveals that opioid deaths top auto deaths in Hawaii.

According to Dr. Winslow Engel, Medical Director,  Ho’okūola Hale /Malama Recovery Services, “It is said that the U.S. has 4.4% of the world’s population but uses over 80% of the opioid supply in the world. Heroin is cheap, and over time has become more potent and riskier. In the1990’s, opioid use grew exponentially as it became more acceptable to treat pain with opioids. Then as the pendulum swung back, people with addiction and physical dependence were forced to turn to cheaper forms of opioids.”

Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center sees integrated treatments as the future, citing a partnership between Dr. Engel and psychologist, Dr. Niki Wright. The duo teams up to serve patients for Ho’okūola Hale (integrated chronic pain management department)/Malama Recovery Services (intensive outpatient substance use disorder treatment program).

Dr. Wright says, “Chronic pain, psychological suffering and substance abuse often co-exist but our specialty-orientated filters keep us from seeing the problems in their entirety if we don’t integrate and work together. There are many components to chronic pain (biological, psychological, social, spiritual) that requires an integrated approach for effective treatment.”

Website: www.wcchc.com