Controlling pill problem is vital to our future

Sep 27, 2012

The illegal use of prescription drugs has been the focus of countless meetings, educational workshops and presentations in Haywood County for several years now.

An often-cited statistic is: In Haywood County, one in every four deaths looked at by medical examiners is caused by a prescription pill related overdose. Most victims are teenagers.

Despite a number of educational efforts and downright horror stories about the life of those addicted to prescription drugs, improper use of medication remains one of the top drug abuses issues in the county.

The recent story told by a recovering addict about her loss and road to recovery is yet another sad tale of the high stakes involved with improper use of pills.

If the information widely available about the ramifications of misuse doesn’t take, luckily there are plenty of support and recovery groups around to help addicts turn their lives around.

One effort is one started by Jean Parris of Canton who decided something needed to be done after a friend’s child was killed as a result of drug problems.

Parris will lead a support group at the Community Kitchen, 98 Pisgah Drive in Canton, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.

There are other support efforts in the county as well. There’s the Haywood Recovery Education Center operated by Meridian Health Services that offers a  wellness and skill-building approach to recovery. Meridian also offers suboxone treatment for those who are dependent on opioids, as well as other counseling services.

A number of churches offer support and help groups, and there are numerous mental health counselors in the community who can help those addicted to pills work through their dependency issues.

The first step, however, is recognizing help is needed. Additionally, others can help address the issue before it is a problem.

Never, never allow others to use pills that haven’t been prescribed for them. If pill supplies run out more quickly than they are supposed to, investigate to see if anyone in the household may be taking them.

When not all of a prescription is needed, don’t keep the pills around. There are prescription drop boxes at several law enforcement agencies where the unused pills can be deposited and safely destroyed.

When the extent of the prescription drug problem became evident in Haywood, key groups in the community came together to combat it. The group included not only those in the medical and mental health community, but educators, law enforcement, the faith community and citizens at large.

A community wide approach to this issue is the best, and perhaps the only effective way to combat this pervasive problem.

Improper use of prescription drugs crosses all socio-economic boundaries, but impacts both youths and adults. Our future literally depends upon getting a handle on the problem.