- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has created a new state council to address what the governor called a growing crisis of opioid misuse and addiction.

The governor made the announcement at a Thursday news conference at the Alabama Capitol. The council will suggest ways to reduce opioid-related deaths.

Alabama leads the nation for the rate of prescription opioid use, with 5.8 million opioid prescriptions written in 2015. The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Alabama had 5,128 deaths from overdoses from 2006 through 2014.

“This is unacceptable,” Bentley said. “Through the Alabama Council on Opioid Misuse and Addiction, we will continue to build on our existing efforts to combat opioid abuse in our state and will return with new innovative ideas to put an end to this deadly epidemic.”

Bentley, a dermatologist who maintains his medical license, said education is required for both doctors and consumers about the hazards of opioid use and potential treatment alternatives.

However, the governor said many people do not get their pills from a prescription.

The new council will hold its first meeting within the next six weeks.

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