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By Maggie Fox/NBC News

Doctors are cutting back on opioid prescriptions but not by nearly enough, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The number of prescriptions for the painkillers has tripled since 1999, driving the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

This means doctors have to cut back even more, saving opioids for acute pain — after surgery or for people with incurable cancer and other terminal conditions, for instance. Arthritis, back pain and other long-term conditions should be treated with other methods, CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said.

The CDC surveyed opioid prescriptions and broke them down county by county (below).

“Despite significant decreases, the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 remained approximately three times as high as in 1999 and varied substantially across the country,” the CDC team said in their report…

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