By ANGIE WANG and JOHN MINCHILLO
Associated Press

JACKSON, Ohio (AP) - Newly released prescription opioid statistics underscore how widespread pill use has been in towns and small cities of America's Appalachian region.

In Jackson County, Ohio, for example, an average yearly total of 107 opioid pills for every resident were distributed over a seven-year period. Such numbers shock even those trying to help the communities cope with increased crime, overcrowded jails, overwhelmed social services agencies and at-capacity treatment centers.

The drug data made public by a federal court in Cleveland that is overseeing lawsuits against drug companies shows that the number of painkiller pills distributed soared as the nation's overdose epidemic grew over a seven-year period through 2012.

The sheriff in hard-hit Perry County, Kentucky, says he sees the consequences every day.

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