Study: 4 of 5 new heroin users start with prescription pain pills

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A 2016 study shows that 4 of 5 new heroin users started with prescription pain killers, and two local doctors have launched an effort to cut down on the number of painkillers they prescribe.

"If prescribers ask themselves, 'how many opioids did I prescribe last year?' If you can't get that number… start thinking about it," said Dr. Glenn Waters.

"I think honestly and transparently the opioid crisis can be traced back to prescribers," Dr. Tim McConnell said. "There's others that are involved and there's others that can be possibly considered held culpable but the flow of opioids comes from prescribers."

Dr. McConnell and Dr. Waters, together, prescribed 42,000 fewer pain pills in 2016 than they did in 2015. The reduced numbers come courtesy of their PainPack Protocol. The doctors are reducing the number of painkillers they prescribe and instead offering an alternative to opioids.

Here's how it works: Ibuprofen and Tylenol are taken at prescription strength. The doctors said those two, at prescription strength, taken routinely will reduce patients pain and give patients an opioid free option they didn't have before.

Oxycodone is still available, but only to be taken when needed. More information is available on their website.

The protocol has already been adopted by five emergency rooms in the Cincinnati area. The protocols growth in popularity coincides with Gov. John Kasich's legislation to limit prescription painkillers.

"This is very, very appropriate for timing, for not only Cincinnati but for Ohio and for the nation," Dr. Glenn Waters said.

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