AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Four Texas cities, including Amarillo, are ranked in the top 25 cities across the country having an opioid abuse problem, according to a 2016 report from Castlight.
In the recent State of the Union address President Trump said the opioid epidemic across the nation is a "terrible crisis." Only a few months before, he declared the epidemic a public health emergency.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in 2017.
Here in Texas, Texarkana, Odessa, Longview and Amarillo made the list of top 25 US cities having an opioid abuse problem.
"It's clearly alarming," said Chief Medical Officer at Northwest Brian Weis. "What we do know is that when people use opioids, or narcotics, they have to, in essence, accelerate the dosage to get the effect they are looking for. So as people take more and more to try to get the pleasant feeling they get from it, they're at more risks for overdoses."
Physicians play a big role in this crisis, both in the problem and solution.
"Physicians play a very big role because they are the ones prescribing these medicines for medical conditions," said Weis. "Physicians are using it to treat medical conditions. The problem is that can then ultimately lead to an addiction or dependence on the patient on that medication."
However, physicians are not the only one's who hold responsibility.
"The patient has a very important role. They need to be responsible in how they use the medications," said Weis. "They need to understand the implications of taking these medicines, and they need to work with their physicians and health care providers."
A solution doctors are working towards in treating pain with less use of narcotics, and more use of other painkillers.
"I think we're working on the solution," said Weis. " A, it's education first and foremost. It's an awareness we have a problem in this country, both among physicians and patients. It's also the better use of non-narcotic pain medicines. We're using these more appropriately, more commonly to try to replace the use of narcotics. So I think all together we will see a reduction in the use of narcotics. But again, education is number one and people need to understand how dangerous these medicines really are."