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Vivien Williams: The face of addiction is changing. What once seemed relegated to desperate souls hiding in the shadows now impacts our friends, families and coworkers. More people are addicted to opioid painkillers than ever before.

Mike Hooten, M.D. (Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic): I believe that in the past 20 years, the indication and the setting in which opioids are provided has changed dramatically.

Vivien Williams: Mayo Clinic pain management specialist Dr. Michael Hooten says that's good and bad. People are able to get relief from severe pain, but they're also able to get prescriptions for opioids when less addictive options such as ibuprofen may work just as well.

Mike Hooten, M.D.: If they are predisposed to develop addiction, either neurobiologically or from a behavioral perspective, then all of a sudden, we are selecting the individuals who may go on to have long-term problems.

Vivien Williams: And with addiction comes the possibility of accidental overdose. Every day 78 people in the U.S. die from opioid-related overdoses.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Hooten says educating people about the dangers of opioid misuse may be an important step in managing this public health crisis. For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.

March 22, 2018