Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013
Prescription Take-Back Day Calls Attention to Drug Abuse
WEST FRANKFORT -- West Frankfort was just one of many law enforcement departments in our area helping residents safely dispose of old medications on Saturday.
It's part of a nationwide effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency to educate the public about the potential for prescription drug abuse.
Prescription medication can either help you or hurt you. It all depends on how and when it's used.
"One person every 14 minutes dies of a drug overdose," says West Frankfort Police Chief Shawn Talluto.
If you have unwanted or expired prescription drugs, National Drug Take-Back day offers a proper disposal.
"Stuff that's in their medicine cabinet that they don't need anymore and they really don't know what to do with it, they can bring it to the police department and turn it in," explains Talluto.
But he says it's just a band-aid on a growing problem with drug abuse.
"The last three years we've prosecuted 191 drug cases here in the city of West Frankfort. The majority of those are prescription pill cases."
Talluto says that's up by more than 30 cases from 2006 to 2008, and it's an issue that often begins at the doctor's office.
"When a doctor gives you a prescription, unfortunately and you do not get relief, so you continue to up the dosage. And then when you become addicted to that medication, if the doctor decides to take you off it, then you have a problem," Talluto explains.
DEA statistics show twice as many Americans regularly abuse prescription drugs, than the number of those who regularly use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined.
"It's strenuous on law enforcement because of the simple fact that they're obtaining these substances legally," insists Talluto.
Prescription drug abuse is also a case that can be difficult to prosecute. Unlike some states, possession by ingestion is not against Illinois law.
"You can be under the influence of a medication, but you can't be charged with that," Talluto says.
And when more than 70% of people abusing prescription pain relievers get them through friends or relatives, police say it's vital to clean out the medicine cabinet.
According to a recent report by Trust for America's Health, the U.S. loses more than $53 billion a year in lost productivity, medical, and criminal justice costs due to painkiller abuse.
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