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Trying To Stop The Opioid Epidemic Is An Uphill Battle

To stop the opioid epidemic, the CDC is telling doctors to cut back on opioid painkiller prescriptions, but some people just end up turning to heroin.
Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 18, 2016

The United States has seen a 33 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the past five years, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the overdoses are linked to highly addictive opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers.

SEE MORE: There's A New War On Drugs At The Center Of America's Heroin Epidemic

In fact, prescription painkillers are to blame for the majority of overdose deaths in 2015.

That's one of the reasons the head of the CDC considers doctors one of the first lines of defense in fighting the opioid epidemic.  

In an op-ed for Fox News, Dr. Tom Frieden says while it's important to help people who are addicted to opioids, it's necessary for medical staff to stop opioid exposure from the start.

That take seems to be spreading through the medical community. Since 2010, prescriptions of OxyContin have fallen by 40 percent. The drug is one of many opioid-based painkillers.

Users often turn to heroin or other drugs when prescription painkillers are no longer available to them or become too expensive. Frieden says that's why it's so important to avoid prescribing opioids.

SEE MORE: Opioid Production In The US Is About To Go Way Down

Those fighting the opioid epidemic stateside may soon be facing an uphill battle worldwide. Since opioid prescriptions have fallen in the U.S., some companies — like the one that produced OxyContin — have begun to look overseas for friendlier new markets.