PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, joined the “KDKA Morning News” to discuss the opioid crisis in the United States.

He says America is “bathed” in prescription drugs and the combination of pain killers being over-prescribed and street level heroin, has led to the current crisis.

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“A person who gets a lawful prescription who may, because of their DNA, get addicted to it…is almost certain to go to street heroin because of the cost factor. A pill costs $1 a milligram and so if you get addicted, it’s about a $200 dollar a day habit and the heroin is about $50 a day,” said Hickton.

Hickton adds they are doing what they can on the supply side to fight the drugs being brought into the country. They are tripling the number of prosecutions, as well as working with those who are addicted and their families through outreach and other programs.

As for Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, it’s something that Hickton says will save lives as a last resort.

“[It] should be readily available, as available as a defibrillator, or a fire extinguisher in any work place or any school,” he says.

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Another way he says they are trying to curb opioid abuse is by monitoring the number of prescriptions a patient gets so they can help stop “doctor shopping.”

Hickton adds there is a lot more work to be done and that currently, there is a severe deficiency for those who want help for opioid addiction.

“If every addict showed up tomorrow for help, they tell me nine out of ten would be turned away. So, the public has to get sufficiently outraged that they demand that there be more treatment capacity,” says Hickton.

Listen to the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.

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