Some drug addicts are complaining that drug company addiction to money has contributed to the problem of addiction to drugs.

There may be justification for this view. A recent Cleveland lawsuit reports pressure within some drug companies to sell opioids increased during the epidemic. These companies flooded some communities with highly addictive painkillers. Corrupt doctors and pharmacists helped by working with pill mills. Drug companies deny responsibility.

People suffering with pain found themselves grappling with their problem and many became addicts. Some died.

Studies reported at least 20 percent of patients who were prescribed opioids misused them and 8 to 12 percent of these persons later resorted to heroin use.

What has resulted is a public health crisis.

Additional studies indicate that in 2014 millions of people in the U.S. suffered from substance abuse disorders related to their being prescribed opioids. Some suffered devastating consequences.

Many found that after they had used opioid painkillers for extended periods they required high doses to achieve relief. Increased doses brought addiction.

As much as 80 percent of heroin users began their addiction from first using prescribed opioid painkillers.

Once heroin addicts seek additional supplies, they may come to the attention of law enforcement officers. These addicts seek cheaper sources on the streets of our cities where drug pushers await them.

Criminal activities may increase as addict numbers rise.

We must find safe, effective, non-addictive painkillers. Opioids should not be prescribed without adequate safeguards and monitoring by health care providers.

Researchers are busy working on alternative painkillers and trying to reduce opioid dependence. Scientists are teaching about addiction while seeking new treatments and prevention of addiction.

Those addicted or taking opioids must be careful to remain in control of their lives. Health care providers must remember their oaths and keep their emphasis on the welfare of their patients over personal gain.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.

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