State: Painkiller prescriptions lower, opioid deaths higher

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

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.

News 12 has recently updated to a brand new version of our iOS and Android apps.  If you don't have auto updates enabled on your devices, head to the App Store or Google Play Store to update to the latest version.  This will ensure you keep getting up-to-date local news, traffic and weather information.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."