Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

U.S. Officials Target Escalating Drug Overdoses

Deadly epidemic is driven by abuse of narcotic painkillers and heroin


To break this link, the federal government has begun to crack down on "pill mills" and doctors who over-prescribe narcotic painkillers. It has also developed education programs for doctors and patients on prescribing painkillers and disposing of unused prescriptions.

Nearly 80 percent of people who recently started using heroin had previously used prescription pain relievers illegally, according to a U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report issued last April.

Hoffman's death, despite his efforts to stay clean, reminds experts that any fight against heroin must be broad and multi-pronged.

Waging a campaign against drugs isn't a simple matter of law enforcement, Kerlikowske said.

Seizures of heroin along the Mexican border increased 324 percent from 2008 to 2013, he said, but even rural areas of the United States are finding heroin easy to come by.

"It is clear we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. Science has shown that drug addiction is a disease of the brain -- a disease that can be prevented, treated and from which one can recover," Kerlikowske said.

Wider use of the drug naloxone would help curb drug-related deaths, Kerlikowske said. When given to someone suffering an overdose, naloxone can almost immediately counteract a drug's lethal effect and save that person's life, he said.

Kerlikowske believes that first responders, such as police and EMTs, should routinely carry naloxone. "Saving a life is more important than making an arrest," he said.

In New York state, legislators this week proposed a bill that would allow a trained layperson to administer naloxone to someone at risk of an overdose.

Making treatment available for drug addiction is also a key tool, Kerlikowske said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover treatment for drug addiction just as they would treatment for any other chronic disease, he said.

Drugs used to treat chronic addiction include naltrexone (Narcan), buprenorphine (Buprene) and methadone, Kerlikowske said.

"Medication-assisted treatment has already helped thousands of people in long-term recovery," he said.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting