As prescription painkiller use rises, so does opiate addiction


Painkillers made from opiates are known to have addictive qualities and were once prescribed only to patients on their deathbeds. But today that category of drugs is used to treat many types of chronic pain. A joint investigation by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Duluth News Tribune finds Minnesota doctors wrote 72 percent more prescriptions for narcotic painkillers last year than they did just six years earlier.

Drug experts say those painkillers are a gateway to other opiates, especially heroin.

In presenting part one of their series, each newspaper highlighted someone who is going through treatment after getting hooked on painkillers such as OxyContin or Vicodin. The News Tribune profiled a father of three from Esko who says there was nothing he would not steal while in the throes of his addiction.

The Pioneer Press introduced us to a 21-year-old whose addiction caused her to drop out of college and drain her bank account.

As doctors prescribe more opiate-based painkillers, pharmaceutical companies make more of them. The New York Times reported this fall that some pharmacies are suspected by the Drug Enforcement Administration of fueling the street trade in painkillers. The DEA is cracking down on distributors who deliver to those pharmacies.

The website WebMD has a page that looks at prescription painkillers and some of the factors related to addiction.

Next Up

moose minnesota usfws - flickr

MN homeowner mistakes large tent for dead moose

They spotted two people on a security camera dragging the "moose" across a driveway.

Flickr - minneapolis police officer close-up belt camera - Tony Webster

What happens if Mpls. public safety question passes? City memo provides answers

The memo was sent to the mayor and council members Tuesday morning.


COVID-19 hits Minnesota Wild coaching staff

The Wild will be shorthanded for Tuesday night's game in Vancouver.

Anthony Edwards

Ant takes alpha role after bad loss: 'We need to lock the f*** in'

The Timberwolves' rising star was not happy after Monday's loss to the Pelicans.

parker eisinger

Lakeville football player diagnosed with cancer week before playoffs

The tenth-grader was diagnosed with a form of cancer most commonly found in people aged 65 and older.

University of Minnesota peeping tom suspect

Someone keeps trying to film showering women at U of M

The university has received three reports in the past two weeks.

john Fluevog shoes 1

John Fluevog Shoes closes its Uptown Minneapolis store

The brand could return to the Twin Cities one day.

sidecar drink

Sidecar — Town Hall's new cocktail lounge — is officially open in Minneapolis

It's the fifth Town Hall location, but the first to focus on cocktails.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Here's where DFLers stand on Minneapolis' public safety ballot question

The question would create a Department of Public Safety and remove some requirements.

Arthur Kollie

Man pleads guilty to brutal murder of 14-year-old girl in Fargo

The 14-year-old girl was the victim of a random attack outside a Fargo strip mall.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates 2021 - jacob frey sheila nezhad kate knuth

Here's who has endorsed the frontrunners for Minneapolis mayor

Politicians and community groups are voicing their opinions.


Prescription painkiller abuse may be to blame for jump in heroin use

The Department of Health blames opiate-based prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin, as a driving factor in the spike. Evidence of its impact is showing up in treatment centers, arrest reports and the number of overdoses.