It's a new medical specialty that's been two decades in the making -- patients struggling with opiod addiction will now see doctors specifically trained to combat the disease.
“Somebody who is misusing their medicines is not an evil person, but a sick person,” said Dr. Patricia Pade, program director for the Addiction Medicine Fellowship at CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation).
She said prescription drug use in the U.S. has reached epidemic levels and it's not a patient's moral failure, but a treatable disease.
“There is a genetic predisposition. We know that,” said Dr. Pade.
Painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin often prescribed by doctors, can lead to long-term addictions.
“The healthcare community definitely has a role, or had a role to play in that. And I can understand the patient's frustration,” said Dr. Sophie Collins.
Dr. Collins is an anesthesiologist. But now she's also an Addiction Medicine Fellow at University of Colorado Hospital.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014, the highest number on record.
More than 14,000 of these deaths were linked to prescription opioids. That's roughly 40 deaths per day.
“Now doctors and healthcare providers are saying, 'We kind of went too far with this, we have to scale it back,'" said Dr. Collins, "And some people feel, ‘Hey I’m stuck in this and you guys brought me here.'"
Dr. Collins is hoping this new subspecialty will help bring them back.