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Dr. John P. Rosa, a consultant to the White House, Justice Department, Homeland Security and others on the opioid crisis, called New Jersey chiropractors to action in preventing opioid use, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

“It’s the perfect storm,” said Rosa, who spoke virtually to 600 chiropractic physicians throughout the Garden State on Thursday as part of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC) semi-annual convention.  “(The pandemic) takes us to a whole other level of isolation.  And the handcuffs were taken off of prescribing in telehealth format, so people could get opioid prescriptions without having to go to the doctor.

“Through this pandemic over the last 12 to 14 months, we’ve seen a massive increase in use and deaths,” he said.

Every day in America, Rosa said, 500,000 opioid prescriptions are being written and 160 people are dying of an overdose. It is the leading cause of death in Americans under 50.

“What are we doing to avoid that scrip from ever being written? What are we doing to make the community aware that you can’t go into your grandmother’s medicine cabinet and take that prescription so you can have fun with your kids and your friends?” Rosa asked.  “How do make the awareness and prevention real and not just say we are going to prevent deaths?”

Rosa is frustrated that efforts focus on making Narcan and other overdose reversal drugs more readily available.  “More rehab centers and Narcan on the street does not make prevention and awareness to me,” he said.

He calls chiropractic the gatekeeper to prevention.  “Medical doctors are so handcuffed and don’t know what to do for pain patients and sports injuries now,” he said, referring to the limits that have been placed on prescribing potentially addictive pain killers.

In 2018 alone, said Rosa, $8.7 billion were brought in through drug-related asset forfeiture in this country.  “Why can’t a percentage of forfeitures go toward the prevention side?”

“Absolutely, 100%, the gatekeeper to this problem is a chiropractor.  We’re trained in doing everything to assess pain that everyone else is, and we do not write prescriptions, by our rules.  If they need something that is outside our scope, we are perfectly capable of handling a referral.  But if they don’t need it, we’re perfectly capable of handling and managing their pain – whether it is through treatment, co-treatment or some other modalities. That’s in our wheelhouse and no one else’s,” he said.

Rosa owns a 17-clinic integrative practice in the Washington, DC, area of Virginia and Maryland.  His clinics incorporate chiropractic, medical and physical therapy, acupuncture and behavioral medicine. He also founded the non-profit Overdose Free America, which uses the power of celebrity and entertainment to bring visibility to the opioid crisis.

He ended his presentation imploring New Jersey’s chiropractors to actively seek relationships with medical doctors to try and help patients before prescriptions are used and to host community awareness events. “You can’t be the bystander on the side,” he said.

Rosa ended his two-hour presentation by quoting Hippocrates:  “’The greatest medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it.’  That’s us in a nutshell.”