ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Nationwide, the New York Times reports 50,000 opioid deaths last year, alone.

Emergency medicine physician Dr. Evan Schwarz at Washington University School of Medicine says the numbers are “astounding.”

The latest numbers show 650 opioid overdose deaths in the St. Louis area last year, with 250 in St. Louis city.

“I think these things just became easier to obtain, and the people that were providing them, generally illegally, just became much better about doing it, unfortunately,” Schwarz says.

Schwarz says doctors also need to share some of the blame for over-prescribing opioids, and not looking at the long-term repercussions of over-prescribing the painkiller.

Part of the solution, he says, is to increase everyone’s access to treatment and to medications that can help kick the opioid habit, and then see that they receive long-term treatment and counseling.

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