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Vivien Williams: Opioid painkiller addiction can destroy lives. The CDC reports that in 2014, 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on painkillers, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone.

Mike Hooten, M.D. (Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic): The most important first step is recognizing you have a problem.

Vivien Williams: Mayo Clinic pain management specialist Dr. Mike Hooten says the second step is to talk to the doctor who prescribed the medication.

Michael Hooten, M.D.: The medication, under medical direction, can be gradually tapered and then at the same time, other pain therapies can be introduced if needed. And, finally, you need to be referred to the appropriate addiction specialist.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Hooten says breaking free from opioids is not easy. But, unlike alcohol withdrawal, which can be life threatening, …

Michael Hooten, M.D.: Acute opioid withdrawal is a non-lethal syndrome. It's very, very uncomfortable, but not necessarily associated with death.

Vivien Williams: Every day 78 people die from an opioid overdose. Experts urge anyone who is addicted to get help. It can save your life. For the Mayo Clinic News network, I'm Vivien Williams.

March 22, 2018