Training teaches CHCC staff how to combat opioid abuse

Posted on Apr 15 2019


Staff of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. were recently trained on specific interventions to address the abuse of opioids, or medicines designed to combat and mitigate pain.

CHCC Community Guidance Center’s Recovery Clinic staff underwent pain management cognitive behavioral therapy at the Kanoa Resort from March 6 to 8, 2019.

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin, as well as other synthetic compounds such as fentanyl and pain relievers available legally through prescriptions such as oxycodone, hydrocodone or vicodin, codeine, and morphine.

“While drugs in this class are commonly prescribed because they are effective at relieving pain, they are also highly addictive,” CHCC noted in a statement, adding that opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in the U.S. with an estimated 130 deaths per day related to opioid overdose.

As for now, there is no evidence to suggest that the CNMI has a significant problem with opioid abuse, CHCC noted.

Dr. Christopher Rocchio, Dr. James Peck, and Dr. Kevin Kunz were invited to provide the training. The three are experts from the Opioid State Targeted Technical Assistance Effort.

A total of 37 CGC staff attended the training, among them physicians, nurses, dentists, social workers, behavioral health professionals, pharmacists, and pharmacy staff.

“The CGC aims to increase clinical capacity to address problematic substance use in the CNMI,” CHCC noted. “[This training] was meant to educate providers about opioids and the potential for addiction, as well as learn alternative approaches to deal with the pain.”

The CGC urges individuals who have concerns with opioid use disorder or addiction that may have developed due to being prescribed medicine for pain relief to call their offices to seek more information as well as connection to services at 323-6560 or 323-6561. You may also reach out through email at

“Opioids are very addictive, and although they are often necessary to help alleviate pain, it is in the best interest of the individual and their family to request their primary care provider’s consultation and recommendation for alternative medication to prevent possible issues of misuse, abuse, and the onset of addiction,” CHCC noted. “By taking a step-by-step approach through guided psychosocial education and interventions utilizing [Cognitive-behavioral therapy] for chronic pain, the CGC hopes to assist individuals and their families in preventing opioid use disorders.”

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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