BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite efforts to stem the tide of overdose deaths among drug users, the numbers continue to rise locally and across the state.
Now, a new public service announcement is coming out, which hopes to curb addictions before they happen.
The PSA features a former University at Buffalo football player Alex Neutz, who developed an addiction to pain medication following an injury.
"I really had no idea of the true danger of addiction and that's something I definitely wish I had known about before taking that first pill," Neutz is heard to say in the PSA, while also mentioning he has been sober for six years.
The National Institutes of Health claims 75% of addictions are starting with prescription meds, either prescribed by a doctor or taken without authorization.
The danger lies when users, who get hooked on them, run out of prescriptions or access to the medication, and sometimes then turn to drugs like heroin --which when laced the fentanyl can be deadly.
The PSA urges viewers to ask specific questions of their doctors whenever they propose putting them on prescription pain medications.
"You should be asking, do I need this medication? Is a non-opioid alternative treatment available? How long will I take the medication? When will I know to stop, and what are the side effects? And, will it impact other medications I am currently taking?" said Dawn Sagerman, director of the Western New York Prevention Resource Center, which produced the PSA which they hope local television and radio stations will air.
"I feel like we've always been told not to question our doctors," said Sagerman. "But if we question our doctors we're actually becoming more educated so we know the risks personally and we just don't take everything at face value."