Help fighting prescription drug abuse
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 11:00 AM
Indiana has unveiled another weapon to fight drug abuse.
A website detailing the symptoms exhibited by people hooked on prescription pills is now available.
The website is www.bitterpill.in.gov.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who announced the new website, called it a "one-stop shop" for information on the symptoms of abuse, such as sudden secrecy or withdrawal from friends and relatives.
Such information can help Indiana residents determine if someone close to them is abusing painkillers, anti-anxiety medications or other prescription drugs and act to get them help, he said.
Prescription drugs were blamed for 718 overdose deaths in Indiana in 2011, a nearly 10 percent increase from 2010's 654 deaths.
Zoeller said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared two years ago that prescription drug overdose deaths have become a national epidemic and Indiana is part of that disturbing trend.
"When they claim it's an epidemic that's not just an adjective, that's an alarm system that says we've now reached a certain crisis stage and people have to take immediate steps," he said.
Indiana ranked fifth in the nation in 2010 and 2011 for nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among people ages 12 and older, according to a federal survey released in January. It found a statewide rate of nearly 5.7 percent. Oregon ranked first in the nation with a rate of about 6.4 percent.
Nationwide, the highest prescription drug abuse rate is among people ages 18 to 25.
Too many people have the notion that prescription drugs are safe because they come from doctors. That thinking is dangerous, and could lead to serious addictions and overdoses.
Indiana's new website includes information that can help residents learn how to discuss the dangers of prescription drugs with their children and grandchildren.
The Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that one in five Indiana high school students had used controlled substances without a prescription in 2011, sometimes getting them at so-called "Pharm Parties" staged after they raid relatives' medicine cabinets and share those pills among themselves.
Indiana must continue to be proactive in its fight against drug abuse. This new website is a valuable tool.