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Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise
01/21/10 - 09:34 PM
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Jessi Chapin - bio
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click for larger image Bay County, Fla:

It’s tied with meth as the leading drug problem in Bay County, and the drugs themselves are legal.  The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is raising awareness about prescription drug abuse with the help of Capt. Faith Bell, and organizations like the Community Health Task Force.

“It shocked me,” said task force chair Robert Harned, “I was overwhelmed by the amount of deaths that are caused by this and the fact that it is a legal product.”

“It’s kind of embarrassing that it’s our state that’s known for this,” said a member, Tricia Pearce.

Their reactions are to staggering statistics, like the fact that the top 25 dispensing practitioners in the country are all in Florida, and prescription drugs are responsible for about 2 Bay County deaths a month.  Capt. Bell uses these in her presentations about drug abuse to raise awareness.

“It’s becoming a huge problem for us, it’s one of the biggest drugs,” said Bell, “it’s almost epidemic proportions here.”

In the pat 3 years, prescriptions have risen to a top Sheriff’s Office priority.  Last year in Florida, oxycodone and Lortab were responsible for more than 2 thousand deaths.  That’s more than 20 times more than the number of deaths related to heroin.

“It doesn’t get reported as an overdose death, so we could have 50 in a month and it wouldn’t look like an overdose death,” said Bell.  She says because toxicology reports take several months to determine cause, often times drug abuse goes overlooked.

Florida is one of 12 states currently without prescription monitoring systems, but that’s about to change.  A law taking effect in 2011 will establish a state-wide database to keep track of prescriptions.

“In the meantime we work with the pharmacies, we keep them up to date with the trends are, what to look for,” said Bell.  She’s hoping residents can also do their part to help.

“It sounds like something we need to be writing our legislators about and make sure they know something needs to be done,” said Pearce.

“The best we can do is make everybody aware that this is a growing serious problem,” said Harned.

With a 15-person drug unit and one investigator assigned to prescription abuse full-time, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to fight this growing problem.

User Comments

And its bigger than you think. Doctor’s could start to help control this problem by not prescribing so many meds, especially pain meds. There are some people who have a drug for every ailment when what they really need to do is modify their diet, exercise and rest. But then why would the doctors want to reduce the amount of prescriptions when they can get kick backs from the drug companies for writing the ‘scripts?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/22  at  01:41 PM
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