WF surgeon fights addiction with opioid-free practice

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – An oral surgeon in Wichita Falls is doing things a little differently compared to most. dr Sandra Vergara runs an opioid-free practice.

The day she knew she was coming to Wichita Falls, Dr. Vergara did research on opioid use in the area as well as Texas as a whole. After seeing the results, she knew she had to make a change.

“That research was really scary,” Dr. Vergara said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids were involved in over 1,400 overdose deaths in Texas in 2018. Dr. Vergara is trying to make a difference, but she says change starts with the doctors.

“We as physicians didn’t know any better either when we started prescribing that,” Dr. Vergara said. “Now that we know, we can do better.”

dr Vergara made her own practice opioid-free 16 years ago and some patients are a little surprised when she doesn’t immediately prescribe narcotics.

“The real thing is that people don’t like not having opioids for after surgery,” Dr. Vergara said.

She presses on by educating patients on the long-term dangers of narcotics.

“She is an advocate for trying to make sure people are not trying to be hooked on drugs prescription,” Dawn Thompson, patient of Dr. Vergara said. “I know that when I had surgery she was really careful with that and I appreciate it. I think that addiction is huge these days, so I think every little thing that we can do to keep that under control is really important.”

Instead of narcotics, Dr. Vergara prescribes other non-addictive drugs to her patients following surgery.

“There are certain medications that the orthopedic surgeons use that actually, we are using now as oral surgeons that actually help us control the pain so the patients don’t need narcotics,” Dr. Vergara said.

The results have been all smiles.

“So when they come for a follow-up, you ask them, ‘how many tablets did you take?'” Dr. Vergara said. “Sometimes they don’t take any, sometimes they take one the night of the procedure and that’s it. They said ‘I was surprised that I really didn’t need it.’”

dr Vergara is also the founder of the non-profit organization Action Against Opioids. An initiative that started 5 years ago to educate people about opioid addiction and the overdose epidemic across the country.

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