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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs —more than the number using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants combined. Every 25 minutes someone dies from a prescription drug overdose.
In 2010, 654 Hoosiers died from accidental drug overdoses according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
While prescription drugs provide relief to millions of people every year when used properly, the abuse of these potent and sometimes deadly drugs has become one of the gravest issues facing Hoosiers today.
A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior survey of a group of high school students found more than 20 percent reported they had taken prescription drugs one or more times without a doctor’s prescription. These drugs included Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax. Indiana ranked second highest out of the 35 states where students were surveyed.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller is combating the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Indiana on a number of fronts. Zoeller launched the first and only statewide Rx Drug Abuse Task Force to help fight the growing drug problem in the state. Zoeller chairs the task force which is made up of state legislators, law enforcement, health officials, pharmacy representatives, state and local agencies and education providers.
The goal of the Rx Drug Abuse Task Force is to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana. The task force will make recommendations for new rules, regulations and state statutes, and will publish a strategic comprehensive report of its findings.
To help warn consumers of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, the Attorney General’s Office created a total of 10 billboards to be placed in Allen, Jackson, Marion, Monroe and Scott counties courtesy of Lamar Outdoor Advertising.