Prescription drug abuse is killing more and more people and is leading to an increase in heroin use.
At a recent news conference, Supervisor Dave Roberts joined law enforcement officials to release the grim data contained in the County Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card.
The report shows prescription drugs contributed the deaths of 268 people in 2012. That's a 22 percent increase compared to 2008 when 220 deaths were reported. A total of 1,221 people have died due to prescription drugs during the past five years.
Most-disturbing is a growing trend of prescription drug abuse among children, who find dangerous pills right in household medicine cabinets. Sheriff Bill Gore warned that teens who experiment with painkillers often turn to heroin because it's less expensive.
If there was one bright spot in this dark story, it came from Bill Sherman of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who said that more and more people are disposing of unused prescription drugs responsibly at collection sites and take-back events.
According to Gore, members of the public have dropped off more than 5½ tons of prescription drugs this year.
The report card also showed:
- Emergency room visits due to painkillers increased by 61 percent;
- Drug-treatment admissions because of heroin increased from 18.5 to 23.1 percent;
- Total students reporting prescription drug abuse increased from 17 to 19.6 percent; and
- The number of juvenile and adult arrestees reporting prescription drug misuse also increased, from 25 to 40 percent and 36 to 38 percent, respectively.
Please stay safe. To learn more, call the Prescription Drug Hotline at (877) 662-6384.