CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — An opioid database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration is being made public for the first time.
It tracks every pain pill sold in the United States from manufacturers to distributors and to pharmacies in every city and county.
Between 2006 and 2012, there were enough prescription painkillers distributed locally to give every person in Nueces County 39 opioid pills a year.
In Aransas County, that number was 44 pills per person, and for San Patricio County - 39 pills per person.
Local authorities said they have seen a domino effect.
"When those prescriptions run out, they are physiologically dependent upon opiates and they move on to other drugs," Dr. John Lusins said. "Heroin. Fentanyl. Anything they can get off the street."
A county-by-county analysis of the data shows the places most affected by more than 76 billion Oxycodone and Hydrocodone pills that were distributed across the country over a seven-year period.
While Texas is not one of the states most statistically afflicted by the nationwide opioid epidemic, Lusins said our local numbers are concerning.
"Seeing that map, I see these patients every day," Lusins said. "I have patients come in and we talk about chronic pain every day, but that number is high."
Lusins said psychiatrists are often left to pick up the pieces after patients become dependent on prescription pain pills.
"Because getting off them and finding alternatives, having withdrawals and what can happen to your family and your life, it's terrible," Lusins said.
Lusins mentioned the launch of a new program through the Corpus Christi Medical Center, which provides alternatives to pain management.
The program is called ALTO. KRIS 6 News reporter Roland Rodriguez has a full breakdown of that program at this link.