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In 2012, physicians wrote a record 255 million opioid prescriptions, a prescription rate of 81.3 per 100 people. (Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock) In 2012, physicians wrote a record 255 million opioid prescriptions, a prescription rate of 81.3 per 100 people. (Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock)

Each day across the United States, more than 130 people die after an opioid overdose. In 2018, an estimated 1.7 million people suffered from prescription opioid abuse disorders. For many of them, their addiction began with a prescribed opioid like hydrocodone or oxycodone following an injury at work.

Opioids can be a helpful treatment option in managing pain that occurs after certain surgeries and types of cancer. But, studies indicate that many healthcare providers overprescribe opioids and many patients misuse the drugs, resulting in what innumerable news reports, academic studies and televised documentaries aptly described as the “opioid epidemic.” The financial toll of this epidemic — the costs of healthcare, lost worker productivity, addiction treatment, and law enforcement — is estimated at $78.5 billion a year.

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