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Program aimed to help prevent prescription theft and abuse

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It is no secret that one of the largest crime issues facing citizens of our area is the ever increasing abuse of prescription drugs. Police say many crimes are related to either obtaining prescription drugs or selling them. Over the last two years, many Arkansas counties have taken part in an initiative designed to allow citizens to take unused, unwanted or outdated medicines, both prescription and non prescription,to a safe place for disposal.

The Sharp County Sheriff's Department will, once again, participate in the National Prescription Takeback Day. The event will be held at the Sharp County Courthouse on Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event provides the perfect opportunity for individuals and families to dispose of unused or outdated prescription drugs that remain in medicine cabinets and drawers within most homes.

Police officers will be on site at all participating locations to answer any questions anyone may have regarding the project. All medicines collected will be destroyed in a safe, legal and environmentally friendly manner.

Below is a list of updated statistics that show the abuse of prescription drugs is a problem that many youth get involved in at an early age, and the drugs often come from the family home or the homes of relatives or friends.

* In 2007, Arkansas was reported to have the worst teen prescription pain reliever abuse problem in the entire United States.

* By the time Arkansas high school students have reached their senior year, close to one in five have abused prescription drugs.

* 7.8% percent of Arkansas high school seniors reported non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past thirty days.

* The rate of past 30-day sedative use among Arkansas seniors is roughly three times the national rate.

* Arkansas sixth graders abuse prescription drugs more than any other substance except alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants. Past 30-day non-medical use of prescription drugs increased in surveyed sixth graders from 2010 to 2011. Sixth graders were the only age group to increase in any prescription-related category.

*Over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse is rapidly increasing in earlier grades and at a rate comparable to, but faster than alcohol and cigarettes. Arkansas has consistently ranked among the ten states with the highest rate of non-medical use of pain relievers by twelve to twenty-five year old individuals since state estimates of this measure first began in 2002.

*Every day in the U.S., on average, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time.

*In Arkansas, close to one in five drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents were found to have drugs present in their systems at the time of the accident.

*Accidental drug overdose deaths in Arkansas rose 195 percent from 1999 to 2004, which reflects the 4th highest increase in the United States. Most of these overdoses were caused by prescription drugs, especially opioid pain relievers and sedatives.

If these statistics are notstartling enough, evidence shows that most drugs that are abused come from teen's friends or relatives medicine cabinets. Many say it is easier to get drugs from their relatives than anywhere else and often times over the counter drugs such as Robitussin are abused.

It is evident that Arkansas faces significant challenges in preventing and stopping prescription drug abuse by its young people. Parents, relatives, guardians, and trusted adults provide the first line of defense in protecting loved ones from the dangers of prescription drug abuse. By bringing these drugs to Drug Take Backs throughout the year, adults are protecting not only themselves from would be thieves, but also the children who may be present in the home from possible overdose or abuse.

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