The worldwide production of oxycodone-type painkillers has increased more than tenfold since 1998, and the United States consumes about 80 percent of that production.
What we do not know — or don’t want to know — is how much of that volume is diverted to non-medical uses, primarily recreational drug habits.
But we can see the impact every day.
Prescription drug abuse has not only caused debilitating addictions, but a storm of crime, violence and neglect.
“We’ve got at least three families ruined that didn’t have to be,” Wayne County attorney Don Jarrell said at a hearing recently.
His 26-year-old client and another Dunlow man, just 18, had been arrested in the shooting death of James Spurlock on May 31.
Apparently Spurlock had just filled a prescription for 168 Roxicodone pills, and the two are believed to have paid him a visit that led to violence.
The murder trial of a Huntington man charged in the death of beloved former Wayne High School football coach Scott Jarrell also was linked to prescription drug abuse. …
In some ways, these prescription painkillers can be even more insidious than street drugs, because they are “medicine” and seem safer. Too often everyday working people, who might never try cocaine or heroin, are introduced to painkillers through an injury or sharing with friends or family. The habit that at first seems manageable spirals into something uncontrollable.
What mother would take her children, ages 7 and 3, on a drug buy. But that’s what a 25-year-old Huntington mom apparently did recently, leading to charges of felony child neglect. …
West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky all are taking new actions this year to curb pain-pill diversion, including new provisions designed to reduce doctor shopping, regulate pain clinics and improve law enforcement access to prescription tracking data bases.
Let’s hope some of this works.
But we also need to change the culture so prevalent in our region that sharing pills is OK and the perception that painkillers are not going to lead to serious addictions.
Friends and family need to be more proactive when they see their loved ones falling into this trap.
Government needs to do a better job of reducing and managing the pain pill supply, but we all need to help each other reduce the demand.
— Distributed by The Associated Press