painkillers

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While communities across the country deal with dramatic increases in illegal opioid use, statistics in Johnson County suggest rates of death and addiction closer to home are relatively more stable.

Court filings involving opioid offenses have remained relatively flat in recent years, and illegal use has decreased for hydrocodone and oxycodone, two of the most popular opiates, according to a report from public health and crime experts presented to the Johnson County Commission in June. Heroin use remains steady.

Despite those encouraging numbers, local officials are wary.

When it comes to chronic pain, opioids are the go-to treatment. But in light of the so-called "opioid epidemic," what are the viable alternatives for people living with pain? And what is it like to live with physical pain, knowing it will never fully go away?

Guests:

Growing up, as the searing pain of a sickle cell crisis would spread through her veins, Tanjila Bolden-Myers would ask her mother if this time, it would kill her.  

“I ask her now to this day, ‘Mom, how did you look me in my face and not break? Every time I asked you that?’” said Bolden-Myers, now 38. “And she was like, ‘No, baby, you’re not going to die this time. You’re not going to die.’”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With overdose deaths from painkillers, or opioids, on the rise, the federal government is giving $3.8 million to health centers in Missouri and Kansas to combat the epidemic.

The grants are among $94 million the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding to 271 health centers nationwide to address the abuse of opioids.

“Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States,” Stephene Moore, regional director of HHS, told reporters Friday in a conference call. “That’s even more than deaths from car crashes.”  

Tens of millions of Americans turn to powerful painkillers to ease their sufferings. But an analysis on the sales of two prescription drugs over a decade is particularly worrisome.

Check out The Associated Press' interactive map at the end of this post. It uses data from the Drug Enforcement Agency to show how sales of oxycodone and hydrocodone ballooned from 2000-10.

You can click on individual states to see which areas had the biggest increases.