By Chris Adams

The overuse of prescription opioids and heroin – and deaths by overdose – has expanded rapidly across the U.S. in the past decade, starting in Appalachia but then working into most regions of the country.

And it’s showing no signs of letting up.

“I’ve really watched this epidemic unfold,” said Dr. Deb Houry, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Just as you think you’re solving one problem, a new aspect of the epidemic emerges,” she added. “I wish I could say it is improving.”

In a National Press Foundation training session, Houry gave an overview of the demographics of the opioid issue, detailing state-by-state and in some cases county-by-county data on the use and overuse of the drugs. She also discussed recent CDC guidelines for proper opioid prescribing practices. The CDC also has a simplified checklist that doctors and their patients can review before prescribing opioids.

Other resources Houry pointed reporters to:

  • State data from the CDC that show deaths and other trends from prescription drugs, heroin and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.