Cleveland, Ohio


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Amber Scott
Amber Scott
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Ohio’s prescription drug abuse epidemic

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The number of fatal drug overdoses has rapidly increased throughout Ohio and the finger is being pointed at prescription pain pills. Some believe that the strength of opiates and other pain medications which are often too expensive to purchase regularly, have even led some to explore cheaper and as effective options such as cocaine and heroin.

According to northeast Ohio’s Chronicle-Telegram, fatal drug overdoses in the state shot up 335 percent between 1999 and 2009. In 2010, doctors prescribed opiates like hydrocodone and oxycodone to 776 million Ohioans, or 87 pills per resident. Sixty-five percent of addicts said they received their drugs from a friend or relative while 17 percent said they stole the drugs from a friend or relative.

Drug enforcement agencies have been searching for the source amid this rise in drug abuse. Doctors across the U.S. have been busted for prescribing large amounts of pain pills and thus fueling the black market prescription drug industry.

An Ohio man recently pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering in federal court for leading the region’s largest “pill mill.” He and two dozen others traveled to Florida to buy oxycodone from doctors to sell on the streets here. They reportedly shopped for doctors until they found a clinic that would sell them the drugs.

More than 100,000 pills worth $3 million were distributed between February 2010 and March of this year, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Among people younger than 30, prescription pill abuse continues to be a growing trend. Several efforts have been put in place to slow the epidemic. For example, House Bill 93 aims at busting pill mills via the Automatic Rx Reporting System that requires doctors to report any prescriptions they write for controlled drugs. This will hopefully help law enforcement track down criminals.

One detective was quoted as saying he “would like to see a law passed requiring customers to show identification before purchasing prescription pills to reduce the use of stolen prescriptions.”

What methods do you feel would help drug enforcement crack down on prescription drug abuse?