“I remember looking at some of the early federal reports involving opioid pain killers and overdose deaths and they had increased so rapidly, when I was looking at the data I was convinced someone had put a decimal point in the wrong place,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny said.
Kolodny is a senior scientist at Brandeis University and executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. He spent time working in addiction medicine in New York City during the early 2000s.
“The sharp increase was very real and what we would ultimately come to recognize is that we were at the beginning of a new, very severe epidemic,” Kolodny said.
Opioids are pain killers which have a similar effect to heroine and are derived from the same source – opium.
They were traditionally only given to people with terminal cancer or used briefly after major surgery, Kolodny said. Other uses of these highly addictive drugs were considered too risky.
But in the late 90’s, that reluctance began to change.
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