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Painkiller Addiction Kills, Not Cures Sickness: Opioid Addiction Plagues Virginia

Update Date: Apr 15, 2016 04:39 AM EDT

Prescription pain killers and heroin that are supposed to keep patients from severe pain have taken more lives after the patients got addicted to it. Now, the government officials and doctors around the United States are looking for a solution to this problem.

A hospital in Virginia had received a 14-point guideline to curb opioid abuse and addiction. The guidelines will keep the doctors from giving their patients a three-day supply of prescription pain killers on extreme cases, Pulse Headlines reported.

The purpose of this guideline is to gradually reduce the number of people who are using narcotic painkillers and to make hospitals acknowledge the police might be monitoring heroin use.

Dr. John F. Duval, vice president of clinical services and chief executive for VCU Hospitals stated that this first step is crucial to halt addiction on these drugs.

"Our hospitals, our physicians, our clinicians across the country are on a front line that knows no boundary. So any solution that we bring forward has to be multifaceted, it has to be multidimensional," said Duval.

The state of Virginia will be using around $11 million on the next fiscal year budget to fight this broken treatment system and expected the federal funding to match it. It is meant to remove the often months-long waiting list that endured by the poorest addicts once help is requested from the state treatment center, according to Daily Progress.

Heroin and prescription pain killers have taken the lives of more than 4,400 people in Virginia alone since 2007. More than 1,300 babies in the state were born with opiates addiction from 2011 to 2014.

 Alleviating patients' addiction on narcotic pain killers is just fighting a part of the opioid addiction. However, that strategy resulted to unintended consequences in the past. Deaths caused by heroin jumped to 77 percent in Virginia from 2012-2014. It is caused by the new regulations that lessen the growth of painkiller prescriptions, which unintentionally opened a bigger market selling illegal drugs.

"I think the answer is really treating addiction, because that's the problem. Opioid addiction is really the same as heroin addiction. It's just trading one for the other," said Dr. Kirk L. Cumpston, a toxicology professor at VCU and medical director of the Virginia Poison Center. "It's really providing inpatient or outpatient treatment for addiction. ... I think that's where a lot of work needs to be done. We definitely need that kind of resource. There are some here in Richmond but we probably need more."

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