Maine Attorney General Janet Mills launched a television ad Tuesday that warns of the link between prescription painkillers and heroin addiction.

The ad, titled “Path to Heroin” and produced as part of the office’s “Dose of Reality” public education campaign that began last year, will be made available to broadcasters in the coming months. It can be viewed online at:

“Four out of five people who use heroin tell us that their substance abuse disorder began with a prescription painkiller,” Mills said in a statement. “The influx of heroin and fentanyl have turned Maine’s opioid problem into a deadly epidemic.”

In 2016, 378 people in Maine died from drug overdoses, an increase of nearly 40 percent over the previous year.

The overwhelming majority of those were linked to opioids, either heroin, fentanyl or prescription drugs.

“This ad illustrates how quickly a person can descend down the path of addiction,” Mills said. “As we work to stem the flow of illicit opioids into Maine, we must ensure that we reduce the number of opioid prescriptions and ensure that people properly dispose of unused painkillers.”

Maine recently adopted a prescription monitoring program that aims to help control the amount of opioid painkillers being prescribed and, in some cases, diverted for illegal sale and use.

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