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Patients Find Alternative To Opioids In Custom-Made Lotions

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Years ago, Constance Scott had two knee replacement surgeries and to this day is still battlings debilitating pain from her neck to her back.

"I was taking ten milligrams of Percocet and ten milligrams of methadone," Constance said.

Doctors prescribed opioid pain relievers to help her, but she knew to keep her distance.

"I don't wanna take something so strong that it takes the pain away and then I become addicted to it and that is a real concern for me," said Constance.

She says she ended taking the opioids twice a day for about a year before she stopped.

But her daily aches were just too much, on top of that she also suffering from arthritis - and she hesitantly asked for more.

"I freaked out about morphine. Because everybody I knew that died they like pumped morphine into them."

"If they had told me it was something else, and not told me what it was, I might not have freaked out. But I just, I took it seven days and that was it."

So two years ago, a pain management doctor sent her to "Pharmco RX," a north Miami pharmacy.

Part of their mission is what they call "Progressive Care" - a different approach when trying to keep -- or ween -- patients off opioids.

"You get discharged from the hospital or discharged from the doctor, but then you're left at home to manage your health by yourself," said Progressive Care CEO, Shital Mars.

"And so, what we have tried to do is to help patients that are feeling pain, that are not adequately treated by their current medication regiment, get the treatment they need to restore the functionality that they deserve."

"Here we are milling the compound cream that we have made," a Progressive Care pharmacist said.

In the mixing lab, the head pharmacist says the main goal in "Progressive Care" is rather than giving patients more oral meds, they custom-make compound lotions to suit each patient's needs.

"It hits the target area, and it is very strong. And people like it a lot because it helps with relieving pain quite quickly, without having to interact with other medications, without having to affect the liver, the kidneys, as much as oral medications."

The idea then is you don't risk addiction or death from taking opioids.

The US Government's latest numbers indicate 130 people overdosed each day nationwide in 2017.

That's 47,000 total deaths that year, 5,000 more than the year before.

It includes prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

"Patients know they don't have to get those side effects. They can drive their cars, they can live a much better quality of life than they do right now. Even if they minimize the amount of opioids that they're taking."

That's exactly what Constance Scott has done in these last two years while using lotions made just for her.

Her doctor still prescribes low-dosage opioid pain relievers.

But Constance says she mostly relies on the lotions for changing, possibly saving her life.

"I didn't go anywhere. You know, I couldn't walk, I couldn't bend. I got to where I depended on other people to buy my groceries," said Constance.

"Oh, I want to get on the mountain tops and scream to the world. Because I know that there are a lot of people out there that are in the same condition that I was in. And it breaks my heart because they don't know that there is something that works.

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