Sad to see opioids flood our communities

An astonishing 4 million opioid prescriptions flowed into Montmorency County between 2006 and 2012, making the area one of Michigan’s hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Michiganders in 2017.

That 4 million pills is enough to provide 61 pills to every man, woman and child in the county every year.

Those numbers came from a Saturday report by Julie Riddle based on numbers from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency database recently made public by court order.

In Alpena County, 49 pills per person per year landed in local pharmacies. Lower numbers were logged in Alcona and Presque Isle counties, at 26 and 27 pills per person, respectively.

We recognize patients sometimes have legitimate pain that needs legitimate treatment, but prescriptions at those rates should have raised red flags years ago.

We are glad to see prescription rates in Michigan decrease by 25% between 2013 and 2017, according to federal data, and we commend health care providers for working hard to get a handle on over-prescribing. We hope those efforts continue.

And we urge our readers to do all they can, as well. Take only what you need. Talk to your doctor about the risks of addiction. If you have leftover pills, take advantage of drug drop-off events often sponsored by area police agencies.

We’re starting to do good work battling the epidemic, but the numbers reported by Riddle last week show we’ve dug ourselves quite a big hole to climb out of.