Listen: Opioid Addiction Causes 2 Deaths Per Day In Mass.

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Prescription opioid addiction, which is on the rise in Massachusetts, is the focus of Monday's Congressional field hearing at the Massachusetts State House.

Among those scheduled to testify about the problem is Dr. Nathaniel Katz, an assistant adjunct professor of anesthesia at Tufts University School of Medicine, and president of Analgesic Research. He joined WBUR to answer some questions about prescription opioids like OxyContin.

Dr. Katz said opioids cause about two deaths per day in Massachusetts — a rate which has held steady for several years — and the substance is also associated with long-term addiction, crime and accidental exposure and addiction in children.

While many young addicts get prescription opioids from medicine cabinets, Dr. Katz said there is a worrying growth in black market trade of drugs like OxyContin and Percocet-30.

"Dealers get them in various types of organized approaches, including from states outside of Massachusetts, such as Florida," Dr. Katz said.

Dr. Katz says better monitoring of prescriptions will be a crucial step towards reducing access to the drugs. "It's the only way that we have to prevent doctor-shopping, which is where an individual goes from one doctor to another to another to get prescriptions," he said.

The Congressional field hearing begins Monday at the State House at 1 p.m.

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This program aired on April 12, 2010.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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