- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama, which has one of the country’s highest rates of prescription painkiller usage, on Monday launched a website and education effort to combat prescription drug abuse.

The Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force debuted the “Zero Addiction” campaign of radio and television ads and a website to direct people to treatment options.

Gov. Robert Bentley, a dermatologist who maintains an active medical license, said painkillers can relieve suffering but are also highly addictive.

“If people take enough prescription pain relievers, especially the opioids that are given so commonly now, if you take enough of them, you probably will become addicted,” Bentley said

The governor said he believes education is needed in both the exam room and at home about the drugs’ use.

The television and radio spots will begin airing in the next two weeks. The website lists treatment facilities and options in each Alabama county.

Task force Chairman Barry Matson said the group hopes to spark honest conversations in families about addiction in all forms.

“It touches us all. It’s a conversation we need to have,” Matson said.

U.S Attorney George Beck of Montgomery said prescription drug abuse is fueling the rise of heroin and synthetic marijuana use.

Alabama was one of four states targeting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency this spring in a “pill mill” crackdown that led to the arrests of several doctors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has one of the nation’s highest rates of prescription painkillers sold per 10,000 people. DEA data shows Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were among the top 11 states for prescribing hydrocodone in 2014.

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Online:

zeroaddiction.org

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