Rx Drug Abuse is now an Epidemic

On July 1st, Florida Department of Health Declared the Prescription Drug Epidemic a Public Health Emergency. An epidemic indeed. In the Tampa area, someone dies every 9 hours from it. EVERY NINE HOURS. THAT’S ALMOST 3 A DAY just in our area!  The declaration goes on to say that prescription drug overdoses result in 7 deaths per day throughout the state of Florida, citing that in 2006 physicians in Florida purchased 85% of Oxycodone and more than 93% of Methadone purchased by all practitioners in the United States.

For more information on what this means to the State of Florida, please see: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/files/07.01.2011-emergencydeclaration.pdf

In 2009 in the Tampa Bay Area (Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties), 938 deaths were reported with a Prescription Drug (Alprazolam, Diazepam, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Morphine and Propoxphene) being the cause of death.  That’s approximately a death every 9 hours!  In 2010 in Hillsborough County, 30 million units of Oxycodone were dispensed by practitioners, 6.3 million units in Pinellas County and 3.8 million in Pasco County, totaling 40.1 million for the three counties in Florida.  The next highest state for the distribution of Oxycodone units was North Carolina, with all counties in the state totaling 174 thousand dispensed units.

Editor’s Note: GoodLiving stands for drug-free living, especially when it comes to prevention for kids.  Throughout this first year of our publication, we have consistently covered this vitally important topic and will continue to take a stand both in print and with our advocacy.

Parents, we have a real fight on our hands. Kids are having pill parties. They are stealing medications from their parents, grandparents, friends’ grandparents — wherever they can find them — and taking them to parties where they are tossed into a bowl to share. Kids take a handful of whatever they get for a whatever high they can get.  It sounds insane, but it’s happening.  They don’t care what they are popping, as long as they are popping.

A local parent told me recently that her high-school aged son knew every location along US Hwy 19 where he could buy Rx drugs if he wanted them. Fortunately he didn’t want them, but the key point here is that it was common knowledge for a minor to know this.

Law enforcement can only do so much to stop the illegal activity. Advocacy efforts are underway to limit the activities of the so called “pill mills” where so-called doctors hand out prescriptions for pain pills to anyone who asks.

But let’s just say it. Parents, we are the key to stopping this epidemic and it’s time we do it. Right now, there are entirely too many parents in our community who trying to rescue their children before it’s too late.  They are hoping to reverse the effects of addiction before another life is lost.  But make no mistake here. It’s a long, hard road to recovery, if you’re lucky.

Prevention is your best defense. Parents must know what is happening with their kids and in our community in regard to drugs. This is not the time to put our heads in the sand. We have a full blown epidemic on our hands.  Keep yourself educated. Keep your eyes open. Keep your medications locked up. And speak up if you suspect foul play.

Watch for more information about what you can do in GoodLiving magazine and stay tuned to our Facebook page for events, classes and other notices.

In good health, Pam

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Written by Pamela Settle, owner of Light Shine Media Group and publisher of GoodLiving® Magazine. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced without permission.

GoodLiving Magazine® is printed six times a year for families in Pinellas County, Florida, home to municipalities including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg. The densest county in Florida, population is near 1 Million people. Past issues are available for viewing digitally on the website.

As an advocate for children and families, Pamela Settle serves as the local committee chairperson for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan advocacy organization that works on behalf of the well being of children throughout the State of Florida.

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