Across the country, more people abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. In Indiana, we have been battling the issue of prescription drug abuse and misuse on the home front as well. According to the State Department of Health, in 2011 alone, we lost 718 Hoosiers to accidental overdoses.
What I have found most startling is how early this abuse is starting. In Indiana, one in five teens has admitted to abusing prescription drugs. Two years ago, Youth Risk Behavior surveyed high school students from 35 different states. They found that Indiana ranked second highest in terms of the number that reported they had taken prescription drugs one or more times without a doctor’s prescription.
Prescription drug abuse is not just plaguing our youth though; it is a problem that is found among people of all ages, races, genders and incomes. State leaders are taking this issue very seriously and assigned the topic to not just one, but two interim study committees.
The Health Finance Committee has already wrapped up their meetings and given their recommendations for the Legislature to review during the upcoming session. One of the issues they discussed was the disposal of unused prescription drugs. In anticipation of new federal regulations, they have suggested that their disposal continue to be considered and monitored.
Many Indiana counties already have “take-back” sites where residents can drop off their old prescriptions. In our area, these include:
William Bros. Health Care Pharmacy at 10 William Bros. Dr. in Washington
William Bros. Health Care Pharmacy at 104 E. Broadway St. in Loogootee
Pike County Sheriff’s Department at 100 S. 4th St. in Petersburg
DuBois County does not currently have a permanent take-back site but does schedule drop-off dates through the Indiana State Police a couple of time each year. There are still safe ways to dispose of unused drugs at home though. The Indiana Board of Pharmacy recommends that you crush the tablets, or open the capsules, and mix them into used coffee grounds or cat litter before throwing them away. It may sound strange but it’s a safe way to render them unusable and keep them out of the wrong hands.
While our state continues to explore how to most efficiently tackle this epidemic, one thing is for certain, it truly is a problem that can affect anyone. If you or someone you know is suffering from prescription drug abuse, it is important to remember that this should only be treated by a health care professional. To find a treatment facility near you, please visithttp://www.in.gov/fssa/dmha/index.htm or call 1-800-662-HELP.
You can also visit http://www.in.gov/bitterpill/index.html to learn more about the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse as well as how to help raise awareness about this growing problem. Awareness is one of the biggest tools that we have at our disposal and I am proud to say that after reading this, you will already be part of the solution, simply by being more informed and aware that the issue exists.