FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Thursday morning details of a state initiative to combat prescription drug abuse. Statistics show 718 people died in Indiana in 2011 from accidental drug overdoses.
Attorney General Zoeller worked with the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force to launch www.BitterPill.IN.gov, a website with information on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse and where to get help.
“Statistics show that abuse and misuse among all age groups is a serious problem in Indiana and that’s a bitter pill for our state to swallow,” Zoeller said. “Whether you are seeking ideas on how to talk to your teenager about whether they are abusing prescription drugs, searching for help for yourself or a loved one or just want to know how to properly dispose of your unwanted medications, this new website serves as a one-stop shop. I believe consumers need to be armed with information and the right resources so we can try to put an end to this epidemic.”
In addition to the launch of the website, the public awareness campaign sets off a series of online, print, television and radio service announcements which will soon begin appearing across Indiana. Hoosiers can watch the TV spots before they officially air on Sept. 2 by visiting the Attorney General’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/INAttorneyGeneral.
Chief Medical Officer at ISDH, Dr. Joan Duwve, serves with Zoeller as co-chair of the task force and said public awareness is a critical component to tackling this statewide problem.
“We have to recognize prescription drug abuse for the serious problem that it is,” said Duwve. “According to the 2011 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, one in five Hoosier high school students has used controlled substances without a prescription. Teens have easy access to most of these drugs because they are commonly prescribed and end up in the home medicine cabinet. What is perceived as a ‘safe’ high, because a doctor prescribed it, too often ends up being deadly.”
During his news conference, Zoeller pointed out the top five features of the website:
- Knowing the dangers: Learn about the consequences of misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and what impact this epidemic has had on Indiana;
- Dealing with addiction: Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse in all ages. Access talking points to use when speaking with family or friends when you suspect a problem, and obtain information about treatment resources and referrals;
- Proper prescription disposal: Learn how to dispose of your unwanted or expired medications in way that protects the environment and ensures they don’t wind up in the wrong hands;
- Clinical resources: Access information written by Hoosier physicians which can help ensure optimal treatment with regards to commonly misused and abuse medications; and
- Reporting illegal activities: Learn how to report illegal activities whether it involves a physician, friend or someone else you know.
Zoeller was also joined by Allen County Health Commissioner, Dr. Deborah McMahan, who shared in the state’s concern for the growing number of accidental deaths related to prescription drug overdoses.
“Addressing a problem of this magnitude requires the efforts of many different sectors of our community, including health care and mental health providers, pharmacists, law enforcement, public health officials, parents and families, teachers and others,” said McMahan. “We are very fortunate in Indiana that the Attorney General has convened folks from these areas to begin to tackle this important issue. Progress is being made on all fronts in terms of developing policies, programs, and educational campaigns that ensure that narcotic prescriptions are managed in a way that promotes the safety and well-being of our community.”
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