WF surgeon battles addiction with opioid-free practice

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) — A Wichita Falls oral surgeon does things a little differently than most. Dr. Sandra Vergara runs an opioid-free practice.

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

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

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

“As doctors, we didn’t know any better either when we started prescribing this,” Dr. Vergara said. “Now that we know, we can do better.”

Dr. Vergara started her own opioid-free practice 16 years ago, and some patients are a little surprised that she doesn’t immediately prescribe them narcotics.

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

She goes on to educate patients about the long-term dangers of narcotics.

“She’s an advocate for trying to make sure people aren’t trying to get addicted to prescription drugs,” said Dr. Vergara’s patient Dawn Thompson. “I know when I had surgery she was very careful about that and I appreciate that. I think addiction is huge these days so I think every little thing we can do to keep getting this under control is really important.

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

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

The results are all smiles.

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

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

Copyright 2022 KAUZ. All rights reserved.

About Rhonda Lee

Check Also

Five Doctors Plead Guilty to Federal Drug Crimes at HOPE Clinic | USAO-SDWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five doctors have pleaded guilty in connection with prescribing practices at the …