CALAOMS Ramps Up Opioid Education Efforts

Dentistry Today


The California Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (CALAOMS) is joining the fight against opioid addiction by educating middle and high school students and first responders throughout the state. 

Prescription drug misuse is one of the fastest growing drug problems in the country, with nearly 5,000 young adults aged 15 to 24 dying from drug-related overdoses in 2015—half of which as a result of opioids, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Opioids kill more people each year than car crashes. Without greater commitment to finding solutions to the epidemic from industry leaders, medical professionals, and legislators, California may continue losing young lives to opioid overdose,” said Pamela Congdon, CAE, IOM, CALAOMS’s executive director. 

Alan H. Kaye, DDS, an oral surgeon in Beverly Hills, a past president of CALAOMS, a past president of the California State Dental Board, and former clinical chief of oral surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, is leading the effort as a result of his own familiarity in dealing with his patients’ inexperience about the dangers of opioid misuse and dependency.

“I want to educate each of my patients and their families, each first responder, and each middle and high school student about the dangers of opioid misuse and dependency,” said Kaye.

“As oral surgeons who can prescribe opioids for post-surgical care, we have an obligation to help people understand the potential for misuse and dependency so they are better prepared for pain management after a procedure. They need to be made aware of good alternative pain relief medications,” Kaye said.

“Oral surgeons in California and throughout the country are diligently working to combat opioid dependence by educating patients and their families about the potential for opioid abuse, and that is why we urge parents to be cognizant of the fact that oral surgeons will recommend non-opioids for most postoperative discomfort and prescribe opioids only when absolutely necessary,” said Congdon.

Kaye and other oral surgeons are looking forward to traveling the state giving talks to middle and high schools as well as other municipal departments. He hopes his presentation will be shown to every middle and high school student in California. 

“I’ve given this presentation now to three of our four dental school classes at Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine,” said Jeffrey A. Elo, DDS, MS, CALAOMS president and professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at both Western University of Health Sciences and Loma Linda University.

“We are hoping to expand the reach of our message by inviting CALAOMS members to give this presentation to students at the middle schools and high schools in their cities,” Elo said.

The presentation is available on the CALAOMS website for its members and others to use in their own opioid education efforts. Through increased education, CALAOMS hopes to curb opioid misuse and foster a healthier California.

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