Sixty people die every day from opioid pain medications, which comes out to about twenty-two thousand per year.
At the White House Opioid Summit on Thursday, President Trump advocated for harsher punishments against distributors.
"Some countries have a very very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty. And by the way they have much less of a drug problem then we do, so we're going to have to be very strong on penalties," Trump said.
Charles Seifert, with the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center says opioid abuse isn't showing any signs of fading away.
"Studies have shown a clear increase in the amount of opioid deaths in the last several years, it's probably doubled in the last five," Seifert said. "I think a good question to ask your doctor is how much are you going to give me and for how long because if the prescription is lasting for longer than a week or so then it is probably inappropriate."
When it comes to abuse, Seifert believes these drugs are easily accessible for people who don't want to get them on the street.
"The number one place that people get opioids illicitly is from a friend or relative. They either ask for it, steal it, or buy it from them," Seifert said.
So what exactly is being done to combat this epidemic? Seifert is confident in the future of a different drug.
"Naloxone is the antidote. It's kind of like the epipen for allergies. If you're at risk for overdose, you shouldn't be walking around without Naloxone. The widespread distribution of Naloxone through appropriate channels is one way to help curb the deaths," Seifert said.
Since 1996, more than 26 thousand opioid overdoses in the US were reversed with Naloxone.
The house and senate are working on a package of bills addressing the epidemic,but none have made it to a vote.