In this April 1, 2014 photo, Ernie Merritt stands with his back brace at his home in of Saco, Maine. Merritt, who runs a support group for chronic pain patients, supports Medicaid guidelines that promote alternative treatments, including physical therapy, in place of narcotic painkillers. Maine is leading in efforts to stem the flow of powerful opioid painkillers with unique Medicaid guidelines. (AP Photo/Blake Davis)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s severe restrictions on opioid painkillers for Medicaid patients, requiring many to instead seek alternative pain management treatment for the past year, have sharply reduced the number of people obtaining highly addictive medications blamed for drug abuse and deaths around the nation.

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