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Monday, March 11, 2013

Prescription Drug Abuse Hits The West

Prescription drug abuse continues to be a major concern in the United States and now seems to be the worst in the western states; formerly the problem was centered in Eastern and Southern states, The Wall Street Journal reports. Unfortunately, law enforcement and public health authorities in the west have been caught unprepared, according to the article.

In the past the western United States was the epicenter for methamphetamine abuse. Now, officials are evaluating this new problem and are developing policies to counter it. Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Idaho have the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the U.S., according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In a survey, SAMHSA found 6.5 percent of Oregon residents ages 12 and older abuse opioid painkillers, compared with 4.5 percent in Kentucky. Not too long ago Kentucky had one of the largest prescription drug abuse problems, but because of the efforts of a number of agencies that is no longer the case.

Southern and Appalachian states topped SAMHSA’s list for prescription painkiller abuse in 2007. Due to public education campaigns on the safe disposal of the drugs those states saw a reduction in the number of pills stolen from medicine cabinets. In conjunction with state laws there has been a decrease in the number of pills on the black market.

The western states need to follow suit if they are going to get the problem under control.

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