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Ohio pharmacists looking to help combat prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse has exploded here in Ohio over the course of the last decade, with the number of people abusing pain medications reaching record levels. While this may not seem like that shocking of a statement, consider that the Ohio Department of Health estimates that someone in the state dies of a drug overdose every five hours and that at least half of these deaths can be traced directly to the abuse of prescription painkillers.

The good news, however, is that state officials and medical professionals are now working together to explore more proactive ways to combat this epidemic instead of just automatically throwing people into prison or severely restricting access to medication, both of which fail to address the underlying problem and often point people toward harder street drugs.

Some of these more proactive methods include directing people toward treatment programs that combat prescription painkiller addiction via carefully managed medication regimens and a traditional recovery approach.

Interestingly, one concerned group that is vowing to help curb prescription drug abuse is pharmacists, perhaps the first line of defense in the supply chain of commonly abused painkillers.

In fact, the Eastern Ohio Pharmacists Association, which consists of several hundred pharmacists from six counties, recently gathered to discuss the issue of how they can help with prescription drug abuse.

"We're the ones to take care of the drugs, to protect the drug supply, to make sure they are safe, that they are effective and going to the people that need them," said the association president. "If a person is coming into a store from 50 miles away to fill a prescription, that's a red flag."

While these efforts are laudable, the assembled pharmacists, along with several guests from the legal community, agreed that the best opportunity to combat the problem is through education. Specifically, they spoke of reaching out to children throughout the state at a young age to inform them of the dangers posed by prescription drug abuse.

What do you think of these ideas to combat the state's prescription drug problem?

Those arrested and charged with the possession or distribution of prescription drugs should consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about their rights and their options.

Source: WFMJ, "Prescription drug abuse a concern among Ohio pharmacists," Danielle Cotterman, Oct. 16, 2013

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