The Herald Bulletin

August 27, 2013

Editorial: Prescription drug abuse is prevalent

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Sometimes the last place you’d look for help is the Internet. Other times, it’s the only place.

For example, if a Hoosier finds that he or she may be addicted to prescription medicines, who knows if they would head to a state-sponsored website that offers facts and a help list. But maybe, and hopefully, family members will turn to and find out ways they can help friends or relatives in addressing the abuse of prescription drugs.

Created through the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, the website is a basic where-to-turn guide. Its existence is needed. According to the website, 718 Hoosiers died in 2011 from accidental drug overdoses, compared to 654 the year before.

There are numerous options for treatment, whether it’s with a private physician, through a residential center or even through a student’s school. But the first step — and the website is the clearest entry into this thought — is to recognize there is a need for treatment.

By definition, abusers take medications when they don’t have prescriptions. Addiction can follow with compulsive behavior, accidental overdoses or other consequences.

The most commonly misused prescription drugs fall into three categories:

◆ Opioids, to treat pain, as in Oxycontin, Vicodin, Morphine and Percocet.

◆ Depressants, used to treat sleep disorders or anxiety, as in Valium, Xanax or Soma.

◆ Stimulants, mostly for attention-deficit disorders, as with Adderall, Concerta or Ritalin.

Telltale signs of abuse include the “craving” of “just one more” pill, a change in sleep patterns, and seeking to replace “lost” prescriptions.

Such descriptions can be found at the website. can serve as a helpful place to start in addressing abuse.

But there’s much to do on the physician-side and the law enforcement end. Physicians have to continue their training in being able to spot abuse in their patients. The American Medical Association provides an education program that teaches doctors how to prevent abuse while still managing their patients’ needs. To that end, law enforcement — responders such as police and emergency medical technicians — must continue, too, to be alert to the misuse of prescription medicines in the patients they see.

And Hoosiers, too, can begin to educate themselves on the destructive behaviors that may be seen in family or friends. Check out


In summary Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic locally and nationally. The state's recent announcement of the creation of a website to raise public awareness of the problem can help all Hoosiers.