Monday, July 13, 2009

North Carolina Counties Fight Increase in Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription Drugs Leading Killer in NC Counties

In Northwest North Carolina counties, someone dies almost every week from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Wilkes County, North Carolina had one of the nation’s highest rates of prescription drug-related deaths in 2008.

It’s a trend shared by other rural counties in Northwest North Carolina. There were more than 22 deaths per 100,000 people in parts of the mountains and foothills in 2006-2007, compared with 10 deaths per 100,000 in the rest of the state, according to the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics.

In Surry County, Sheriff Graham Atkinson said that prescription-drug overdoses are one of the most serious drug problems they have. …

He’s infuriated about thieves who target elderly people who have legally prescribed medication for legitimate use. “We’ve had older folks tell us they hide their medicine in their underwear to keep their grandkids from stealing it,” he said. (Source: Winston-Salem Journal, June 10)

Wilkes County Sheriff Mastin told reporter Monte Mitchell that the current economic downturn is making the prescription drug abuse problem even worse.

Experts warn that people who are using prescription medications for medically authorized purposes need to properly dispose of any unused so the drugs don’t end up in the hands of someone who will misuse them. Adults should also always monitor how much medication they have left, so they know if any is missing.