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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Area and RX Drugs

 Would you deny this beautiful child a full, safe life?

RX Drug Task Force

I attended my first RX Drug Task Force meeting this Friday (February 26, 2010).  Members in attendance included Jane Murray, Portsmouth Mayor; Lisa Roberts, R.N.; Dr. Aaron Adams D.O.; Ed Hughes, LICDC; Troy Gahm, RPh; Peggy Burton, R.S.; Dr. Terry Johnson, Coroner; Charles Horner, PPD Chief; Marty Donini, Scioto County Sheriff; and people from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the DEA, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, among many others.

The Mission Statement is 

"To serve Scioto County as the catalyst for collaboration to combat the severe prescription drug problem, to eliminate the epidemic of addiction, death, and disease, and restore our communities to recovery and health"

The Vision Statement is
"Region free of prescription drug abuse/misuse/overdose and the associated consequences to the individual and society."

The Purposes include  

"The Scioto County Rx Action Team will be an impetus for the coordination of efforts, development of effective services and strategies, and the elimination of the factors that foster and contribute to prescription drug-related consequences, and will advocate for the changes that are necessary to bring about long-term community recovery from drug abuse."

Many updates and reports during the meeting focused on the ongoing drug problems in the area. Needed finances, press coverage, pain clinic updates, dangerous drugs, essential legislation, and coalition activities were discussed. The group is presently formulating an Action Plan to address all phases of Rx drug abuse. Concerns will include initiatives on prevention, awareness, family education, and increased conscientiousness of prescribing practices and monitoring by physicians and Pharmacists.

I Found Something Inescapable

So much important information was disseminated at the meeting; however, I took one thing away from the panel of learned officials that sticks hard in my craw. Action Force means ACTION NOW. We must work to eliminate the problems with Rx drugs before it claims one other life. Please understand, that means ALL OF US must immediately take the pointed finger of accusation, uncomfortably turn it around, and stick it into our individual chests. This is not only the problem facing the Rx Task Force, it is also the problem facing you and me.

We have become content to let this cancer eat away the populace, the reputation, and the very integrity of our area. Many are willing to sit at a comfortable distance from something that they perceive is not their concern. The fight on hand to successfully curb the epidemic requires all to participate to guarantee success. Gone are the days of the "Just Say No" mentality. Bare simplistic warnings are not the answer to the myriad of problems related to the drug culture of 2010. Many social issues including unemployment, poverty, and family dissolution need utmost attention.

Prescription drug abuse knows no age. The elderly are vulnerable because they're more likely to take many medications, often long term. Also, women may be as much as 55% more likely as men to be prescribed drugs that can be abused, such as narcotics and tranquilizers; therefore, their risk is greater, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Abuse is most common among young people, Wilson Compton, MD, director of the division of epidemiology services and prevention research at the NIDA says. "Prescription drug abuse -- like most drug abuse -- tends to peak in the teens and 20s," he tells WebMD.

Almost one in five teens -- roughly 4.5 million -- has tried getting high with prescription drugs (typically with pain relievers such as Vicodin or OxyContin, or stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall). That's according to a recent national study on teen abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs by the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Who Is At Risk?

1. Mary is an average, ambitious college coed faced with the pressures of college and independent living.

2. Ted is a well-respected high school honor student under tremendous stress to perform, get good graded, be a good child and be a good athlete.

3. Jerry is a weary M.D. considering the risks of being somewhat impaired with stimulants to continue to serve the demanding regimen of his profession and patient care.

4. Susie is a great college athlete staring at erythropoietin (a drug that doctors use to treat anemia, also known as Epogen and Procrit) to boost production of red blood cells. She wonders if the increased numbers of red blood cells will deliver more oxygen to her muscles and improve her endurance.

5. Rich is a man who considers using Viagra while having unprotected sex with other men (studies show men who use the pill engage in unprotected sex with other men up to six times more often than nonusers). As a result, his abuse of ED drugs may dramatically increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection.

6. Angie, a teen bombarded with messages of unrealistic body perfection, is worried about her weight, so she thinks that sneaking some of her brother's prescribed ADHD medicine will help her lose weight. She also has a friend who may consent to give her some of his meds as well.

7. Jimmy, a middle-aged, hard-working man sore and aching from the construction trade, considers "borrowing" some opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin or Vicodin from a friend or relative who has a prescription. Ninety-seven percent of the time, these drugs come from a friend or relative, and in most cases the drugs are handed over willingly.

8. Sally, an 80-year-old widow who has just lost her loving husband of 60 years, realizes she needs Benzodiazepines to help her through her recent depression. The drugs do help her sleep better and feel calmer. But, once she starts to take these drugs, it's very difficult for her to stop.

Take Individual Responsibility

Be heard with your concerns about drug problems. Be active in organizations and movements that are dedicated to eliminating the real causes of addiction. Let your one voice be the stimulus for changing many other people's opinions about giving up because past drug programs have not worked to their satisfaction. Above all, start TODAY to inform people that you have had enough and encourage them to help you take the streets back from the people who would poison you and your loved ones. Your fellow human, no matter his/her condition, is your concern and a part of your environment. To do nothing to solve the problems is to contribute to the lack of your own well-being.

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