State: Painkiller prescriptions lower, opioid deaths higher

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The number of pain pills prescribed in Nassau and Suffolk counties dropped for the fourth-straight year, according to New York state statistics, but opioid-related deaths continue to rise.

Long Island doctors filled 6.6 percent fewer prescriptions for pain pills last year. The state has been cracking down on doctors who overprescribe drugs through its iStop program.

But countering the downward trend in prescriptions, officials say more addicts are turning to drugs like heroin and fentanyl, which can be both more powerful and more deadly.

Louis Iacona, of Long Island Helps, says he was first addicted to opioids after taking Vicodin, a prescription painkiller. 

"I enjoyed the feeling from opioids immediately," he recalls.

But then, as pills became harder to obtain in large amounts, he turned to heroin — leading to eight overdoses before he got clean. Now he helps other recovering addicts.

"It is going to get worse before it gets better," he says.

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