After years of the opioid crisis, doctors are being held accountable for overprescribing

a “horrifyingly excessive amount of opioid medications,” the state’s Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement.

Though the number of opioids prescribed was more than 1,800, reports from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner stated that all five deaths were the result of the toxicity from multiple drugs. All of the people who overdosed were prescribed the “deadly combination” of opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and a muscle relaxer — all of which were prescribed by Dr. Nichols.

Overall, Nichols prescribed more than 3 million dosage units of controlled substances that were either addictive, dangerous or both.

Though the litigation against these doctors can be seen as a step in the right direction, advocacy and education groups such as the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing are saying that well-intentioned doctors are a large part of the problem, not the people who intentionally over-prescribe these powerful drugs for their own benefit.

This problem began with the average doctor prescribing too many opioids because they were told they were being too cautious and not effectively treating their patients’ pain. To end this national emergency, educating doctors who prescribe drugs is imperative while also pursuing legal justice against doctors who go out of their way to prescribe excessive amounts of opioids.