Nearly half of Americans know someone addicted to painkillers

22News spoke local residents about their personal connections to prescription addictions

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Opiate addiction is spanning generations, from prescription medications to heroin, and it could be someone you know.

“A lot of like grandparents with knee replacements or hip replacements and the next thing you know they’re addicted to Oxycontin, and they have no idea it’s such an addictive thing,” said Daniel Rainwater of Westhampton.

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 44% of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers.

Cordelia McKusick of Colrain said, “In the restaurant business it was really mostly the locals that had really intense addiction issues, especially to pain meds.”

Feds: Someone is accidentally overdosing every 19 minutes

In 2014, the most recent data that is available, almost 19,000 people died from prescription painkiller overdoses, and more than 10,000 people fatally overdosed from heroin. That’s about 80 people that died from opioid overdoses every day.

Iaona Murray of Northampton was prescribed opiates for back problems; “To get off the opioid drugs is extremely hard.” Murray said it took her 4 years to get off opiates, but some of her friends were not as lucky.

“Now with the epidemic with the opioids around Northampton, and the surrounding areas, I’ve actually lost friends to Oxycontin and overdoses, and it’s an extremely bad problem in this part of the state,” said Murray.

The study also found that 58% of people believe the lack of access to treatment for abusers is a major problem in the country. 1,379 residents in Massachusetts died from opiate overdoses in 2015.

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