MINNEAPOLIS - According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States is facing a prescription painkiller epidemic, and Minnesota is no exception.
In fact, the CDC says deaths stemming from drug overdoses - specifically painkillers - kill more people a year than car crashes.
That's igniting a call for change.
So at the University of Minnesota's Northrup Auditorium, health care professionals, law enforcement, educators, politicians and more - gathered for the "Pain.Pill.Problem Summit" to find solutions to Minnesota's prescription drug abuse problem.
Those at the summit listened to speakers like Dick Beardsley, a legendary marathon runner who became addicted to pain killers after two near-fatal accidents.
"I never was in any bit of trouble in my life. I never had stolen as much as much as a piece of bubble gum and then I started forging my own prescriptions," Beardsley said.
There were panel discussions on the overuse of pain killers.
Dr. Michael Hooten is a pain medicine specialist from the Mayo Clinic. "Recently we published information or data that suggested at least one in four individuals who are prescribed an opioid for short term use will go on to use the drug longer than intended," he said.
The problem even surpasses other drug addictions. "More people are dying every year from prescription opioids compared to a combination of both cocaine and heroin," Hooten said.
Plus, pain killer addiction can lead to some of those other problems.
"Today, of heroin users, four out of five started with prescription painkillers," said Senator Amy Klobuchar. She went on to explain people can't get painkillers anymore, they turn to heroin.
Klobuchar said making it easier for people to dispose of their unused prescriptions is one way to reduce the problem.
Hooten said another way to reduce painkiller abuse is to prescribe lower doses for shorter durations and add holistic ways to treat pain like massage or acupuncture.
Over 1,000 stakeholders were at today's summit and some say education and better monitoring of prescriptions are also key.
They plan to work together for find other ways to reduce the problem as well.