The medical profession must play a lead role in reversing the opioid epidemic that, far too often, has started from a prescription pad.

For the past 20 years, public policies — well-intended but now known to be flawed — compelled doctors to treat pain more aggressively for the comfort of our patients. But today’s crisis plainly tells us we must be much more cautious with how we prescribe opioids.

At present, nearly 2 million Americans — people across the economic spectrum, in small towns and big cities — suffer from an opioid use disorder. As a result, tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year and more still will die because of a tragic resurgence in the use of heroin.

As a profession that places patient well-being as our highest priority, we must accept responsibility to re-examine prescribing practices.

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