As the present opioid crisis grips America, University of Central Florida is changing the way future doctors think about prescription drugs.

  • UCF College of Medicine adjusting prescription drug curriculum
  • Includes more information on opioid management, addiction
  • UCF hopes it will help in opioid crisis fight

"More people are dying in this country from drug overdoses than from car accidents. It's a true public health crisis. We owe it to our community, we owe it to our medical students and our graduates to really take this seriously," said Dr. Martin Klapheke, Assistant Dean of UCF's Medical Education program.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office reports 43 overdose deaths in the area in the first six months of this year alone.

With the crisis in UCF's backyard, their medical school has intertwined more opioid prescription management, and addiction identification education into their regular curriculum.

For second year medical student Christopher Schow, the adjustment in curriculum could make a huge difference.

"It's personal for me. My mom passed away from an opioid overdose. At the time she received a prescription for migraines, and at the time I don't think that would be prescribed now," Schow said.

Schow watched his mother struggle with addiction in silence. Now both he and his classmates are learning new ways to address opioid addiction, and prevent the overprescribing of those drugs.

That includes discussion of the effects the drugs have neurologically, alternatives to using prescription opioids and ways to get the family involved when dealing with addition.

"I think the most important thing for the community and for my classmates is to recognize that this is something that can impact anybody. It doesn't mean they are less of a person," Schow said.

Schow is hopeful, and his professor Dr. Klapheke says this is a step in the right direction. But it's just one of many.

"We are going to beat this thing but it's going to take a lot of work. It's a good step but we've got a long way to go," Dr. Klapheke said.