Huge surge seen in methadone prescriptions nationwide

Drug addiction
A sign hangs in the hallway of a Bupenorphine clinic at the University of Vermont at Burlington. An alternative to Methadone, the drug deals with the short-term effects of heroin withdrawal and the ongoing treatment of heroin addiction.
Photo by Jordan Silverman/ Getty Images

Doctors are prescribing the drug methadone for pain more and more often. Methadone is a narcotic that has been used for years to wean drug addicts off heroin. Methadone a powerful and effective drug, but is itself highly addictive and in some cases it's deadly.

From 1990 to 2006, there was a huge surge in the number of methadone prescriptions in the U.S. In that same time period, there were nearl five times the number of deaths from methadone.

The FDA now recommends doctors prescribe lower doses of methadone than previous guidelines suggested.

Dr. Jon Hallberg talked with All Things Considered host Tom Crann about methadone and the pitfalls doctors are trying to avoid.

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