There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on opioids for pain relief.
Some of those painkillers are available without a prescription and are now being abused.
But a new study from the University of Michigan School of Medicine shows that the painkiller epidemic is getting worse.
The study shows that prescriptions for opioids have risen in states with legalized marijuana in recent years, and more people are now using them to manage their chronic pain.
In addition, the number of opioid-related deaths has jumped from 2,527 in 2016 to 2,872 in 2017.
The increase is most pronounced in the states with legal recreational marijuana, and it’s been linked to a resurgence in prescription opioid use, according to the study.
The study, published online March 3 in the journal Pain, surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults about their drug-related habits.
The survey was completed between January and June of this year.
It included questions about opioid use in the past year and whether people had used opioids in the previous 12 months.
About a quarter of the participants were opioid-dependent.
About 10% of those surveyed said they had used a prescription painkiller in the preceding year, and about 6% said they were opioid dependent.
Nearly half of those who had used drugs reported using them at least once a week in the prior year.
More than half of the respondents who used opioids reported using the drugs at least monthly.
More than a third of those using opioids reported they were taking at least one prescription pain reliever a day, while about one-third of those on prescription opioids said they would be able to use them on a daily basis.
The findings suggest the opioid epidemic is becoming more severe as the U.s. government makes it easier for states to allow medical marijuana use, which is also legal in some states.
And a growing number of people are turning to opioids as a way to treat pain, said Dr. James F. Siegel, a professor at the Department of Pain Medicine at the University Medical Center in Hamburg, Germany.
The number of U. S. opioid deaths has doubled since 2014, and the number has increased in states where marijuana has been legalized, according the study’s authors.
The researchers said that as the number and frequency of opioid prescriptions increases, pain is the leading cause of death in people with chronic pain, and that more people will be dependent on opioids in years to come.
It’s important to understand that the drug problem is real and that the opioid problem is growing, Siegel said.
“We can’t control the availability of opioids, but we can help people to reduce the use of opioids,” Siegel told ABC News.
“There is an opportunity to stop the opioid addiction epidemic, to change the way people live, and to get them off opioids and on more effective therapies.”
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