Summit Grapples With Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Beautiful, sunny, 85-degree Orlando here we come–with Disney World at the top of our list. At least–that’s typically what one’s plans would be when traveling to Orlando. But last week, we would have found more than just families on vacation gathering at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. Last week, Orlando also became ground zero for the prescription drug problem.

The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit

About 700 state and national government leaders, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, treatment experts, and more, gathered for an intense, three-day summit hosted by Kentucky’s Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations Treatment and Education).

“America’s fastest-growing drug problem”

About 1,000 die from prescription drug abuse every year–just in Kentucky. Governor Steve Beshear describes how devastating the problem is–it is “causing untold misery among our families” and “is wasting away the future of many people. In certain areas of West Virginia, prescription drug abuse has become so bad that some say it is just a normal part of life; they even have their own word for it– “pilling.”

But prescription drug abuse spreads beyond the states most known for it.

Prescription painkillers kill more than 15,000 people in America each year and has soared over 300%. And the CDC writes, in a November 2011 Vital Signs issue, that the number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs is more than that of cocaine and heroin combined.

Most speculate that this “explosion” of prescription drug abuse is due to the ease of obtaining prescription drugs and the perspective that they are more “acceptable” than illicit drugs.

So it is no surprise that a summit has been called to try to address this issue.

The Summit’s Game Plan: Combating the National Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse

The goal of the summit was to combat the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse, by working “together on policies that can help curb pill abuse in every state and at the federal level,” according to Karen Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Operation UNITE.

Several ways they hope to prevent prescription drug abuse is through improving,

  • monitoring programs
  • education (for the general public- youth and parents, as well as doctors and pharmacists)
  • proper disposal of prescription drugs (National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day scheduled for April 28)

Many states have monitoring programs to prevent “doctor-shopping,” but these programs can be dodged when someone travels to another state to get a prescription drug. So, a monitoring program at a national level could prove more effective.

“If you’re thinking about using drugs, get smart. If you’re already addicted, get help. If you’re a drug dealer, get out.”

–U.S. Representative, Harold Rogers (KY)

What Can You Do to Help Lower Prescription Drug Abuse and Deaths?

  • Properly dispose of your prescription drugs.
  • Take your medications exactly as your doctor prescribed; if you do become addicted, talk to your doctor immediately.
  • Be alert to children, teens, family members, or other friends who might try to raid your medicine cabinet.
  • If you or someone you love seems to be addicted, find professional assistance. If you’re looking for a residential treatment facility, Duffy’s is equipped to help those struggling with prescription drug abuse.