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“The funny thing is, a lot of patients are like, ‘This is where I first started getting prescribed pain pills,’ ” Talbott said.

Now, the Tennessee native says those same patients are coming to his clinic in Chatsworth, Georgia, a small city about a half hour south of the Tennessee border, to fight their addiction to those very pills.

Outpatient clinics like the one Talbott co-owns dispense drugs like methadone and buprenorphine, which are legal synthetic opioids that block cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Federal health officials say this medication-assisted treatment, coupled with counseling, is the best way to treat an addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin. Patients are required to show up a set number of times a week — the number of visits determined by how long they’ve been receiving treatment — to take their medicine in front of a nurse.

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Image: lost opportimeity via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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