By Laurie Gordon NEWTON - A patient that is not offered opioids, is a patient that is not led into opioid addiction. That's why the Newton Health & Wellness offers alternative pain management. The center's director, Dr. Kevin Shaw, uses chiropractic, laser treatment, massage and other holistic modalities to relieve pain. It's all part of his aim to take action against the nation's opioid crisis. Opioids are chemicals that relieve pain by interacting with receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. “Rather than remove pain with chemicals, we can remove pain through chiropractic adjustments which realign the body to function at its highest level,” Dr. Shaw said. “We can also use other methods to help a person physically, so that pain killers and narcotics are not needed.” Becky Carlson, the Executive Director of the Center for Prevention & Counseling, agrees.“Alternatives to opioids are definitely an option worth exploring and can greatly benefit people as it reduces the risk for addiction,” she said.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 more than 17 percent of Americans had at least one opioid prescription filled. Furthermore, the CDC stated that as many as one in four patients who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction. “Exploring alternatives can decrease opiate use overall and be a less risky option,” Carlson said. In 2018, the Center for Prevention & Counseling received a grant provided by NJ Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to address pain management among older adults in an effort to reduce prescription drug overdose and misuse. While addressing alternative approaches it's important to note that the elderly are most at risk. In 2016, one in five overdose deaths in Sussex County occurred among those over the age of 55. This grant funding provides an opportunity for regional educational events, workshops and curriculum for older adults.Carlson said, “In November, Dr. Shaw delivered a keynote presentation during a regional event for our grant in Stanhope. Dr. Shaw was very well received, participants were engaged and several had scheduled consultations with Dr. Shaw to learn more about the benefits of pain management therapies including therapies to address spinal stenosis and degenerative discs.”Some of the Wellness Center's new patients tend to equate diminishing pain, with taking medication, but soon they learn there's another way to a pain-free life.“Opioids mask pain. They don't cure it," he said. "Chiropractic works by stopping musculoskelatal and nerve pan from occurring rather than masking or blocking it as drugs do. There are very good alternatives to using addictive drugs.” St. Joseph's University Medical Center, in Paterson, is a pioneer in turning against the “norm” of prescribing pain medication. It launched a program called Alternatives to Opiates in its Emergency Department in 2016. According to StJosephsHealth.org, the program gives providers options. It states that "because opioid dependency starts with the first dose, the program uses non-addicting, evidence-based alternatives.”As of now, alternative therapies offered through this program including targeted non-opioid medications, trigger point injections, nitrous oxide, and ultrasound guided nerve blocks.Dr. Shaw has also seen great results using a “cold” laser that has even helped people with failed surgeries to stand up straight and walk normally again. Also called low-level or near-infrared laser therapy, cold laser therapy uses low-level light energy to treat a wide array of conditions ranging from tendinitis, back pain, sprains, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia and leg ulcers. “The therapy is noninvasive and painless,” Dr. Shaw said. “It's another step to avoid the use of drugs.” Dr. Shaw studied medicine at Duke University and at the time, doctors recommended surgery for his longterm back pain. He decided to try a chiropractor.“After just a few adjustments, I could stand and walk again,” Dr. Shaw said. “It was amazing and my whole world changed. I had been told I may need screws in my back and surgery and all sorts of things. Chiropractic changed all of that, and I needed to be a part of it.” He graduated from New York Chiropractic College in 1995 and has more than 25 years of diverse experience. Newton Health & Wellness Center is celebrating 20 years of service.He said chiropractic is a natural way at getting to the root cause of pain. Dr. Shaw believes that most health conditions benefit from approaches that reduce stress, restore balance and movement, and replenish deficiency. Among the conditions that he treats are: arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel, degenerative disc herniation, disc herniation, disc bulging, Facet Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis of the spine, Radiculopathy, Sacroiliac (SI) Disfunction, sciatica, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, sprains and strains, and TMJ. He also, especially this time of year, focuses on the immune system. “Our immune systems are the first line of defense against disease and illness, protecting us from everyday exposures,” Dr. Shaw said. “Unfortunately, we are constantly weighed down by environmental stressors in the form of toxins, chemicals, additives, artificial hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, vaccines, etc that are prevalent in our current world, leading to chronic inflammation and reduced immunity. As a result, autoimmunity is more prevalent today than ever, with food and environmental allergies on the rise. Reducing exposures, fortifying your immune system, and decreasing reactivity is of utmost importance in strengthening and maintaining your defense system.”Another one of Dr. Shaw's focuses is childhood health issues, specifically recurrent health issues such as head and chest colds, sinus and ear infections, asthma, allergies, food sensitivities, ADHD, sleep and digestive issues are common among compromised immune systems. “Pediatric health is highly responsive to chiropractic treatment,” he said. “I work with parents and their children to fully understand their collective history and address chronic health issues.Newton Health & Wellness has one of the area's only Fit3D scanners and balance tracking systems. “These technologies aid the doctors, coaches, trainers, athletes and parents in knowing when it is safe for an athlete to return to play, as well allowing us to minimize risks pre-emptively before injury,” Dr. Shaw said. Newton Health & Wellness is located at 94 High Street in Newton. For further information visit http://www.newtonhealthandwellness.com or call (973) 300-1850.