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According to the nation’s top public health official, doctors are prescribing narcotic drugs far more than they should.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has issued a strong statement regarding narcotics usage in this country. He says that doctors are prescribing narcotic drugs for simple aches and pain and at high rates causing patients to become addictive and overdose from the drugs. Dr. Frieden said that doctors should utilize exercise and therapy first before prescribing strong drugs to a treat chronic pain.

“These are dangerous medications, and they should be reserved for situations like severe cancer pain,” Frieden said. “In many other situations, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Prescribing an opiate may be condemning a patient to lifelong addiction and life threatening complications.”

A Los Angeles Times study found that most of the over 3,700 overdose deaths that occurred in Southern California from 2006 to 2011 involved painkillers prescribed by doctors. According to autopsy reports and other evidence, the deceased became addicted to painkillers, which led to their overdoses.

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