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Published April 06, 2012, 10:07 PM

Pain killer prescriptions on the rise nationwide

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A new study shows the rise in prescription pain killers has grown exponentially in the last decade 1,600% in some parts of the country. Is it because of addicts? Or are doctors just more aware of chronic pain?

A new study shows the rise in prescription pain killers has grown exponentially in the last decade 1,600% in some parts of the country. Is it because of addicts? Or are doctors just more aware of chronic pain?

Here at the Sanford Health Pharamcy in Fargo, painkillers like hydrocodone go out the door every day. Nationwide, pharmacies dispensed 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010. That's enough to give 24 five milligram tablets to every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Dr. Michael Gonzales – Addiction Specialist: “The obvious danger is that people can overdose on them if they use them inappropriately or if they mix these drugs with alcohol or other medications.”

Dr. Michael Gonzales says the increase is mostly due to doctors becoming more aware of the seriousness of chronic pain.

Dr. Michael Gonzalez: “The vast majority of people who are getting these prescriptions are getting them for legitimate medical reasons.”

Dr. Gonzalez says only 15-20% of the country is susceptible to addiction, but for addicts, getting that fix can be a matter of life or death.

Dr. Michael Gonzalez: “They really find that this is more important than food, water shelter, almost anything.”

Pharmacy representatives say many times, the illegal use of these opioid pain relievers is right under our noses.

Gayle Ziegler – Sanford Pharmacy Supervisor: “Whether it's your kids, your kids’ friends, your grand kids, somebody going through an open house and looking in cabinets, so they really should be destroyed.”

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