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Leaders Discuss Options for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

A group met at Empower U in St. Joseph Tuesday to address the growing number of deaths associated with prescription drug overdoses.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Prescription drugs can be found in almost every medicine cabinet.

And, while they can be an effective form of treatment, they can also be addictive.

"While they work to treat depression, anxiety and stress initially, and while they even make you feel good initially, after a while your body gets use to that feeling and it doesn't work that way, so you have to take a higher dose," said Don Teater, M.D.

And if a higher dose doesn't work, some take it a step further.

"Your brain gets used to it and it gets so it doesn't work. So, people take higher and higher doses until they get to a dose where it actually affects their breathing. And, people can die from overdose," added Teater, a medical adviser for the National Safety Council.

Teater joined a group at Empower U in St. Joseph Tuesday to address the growing number of deaths associated with prescription drug overdoses.

"A few years ago, they realized that drug overdose was the leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the United States," he said.

In 2010, more than 38,000 overdosed on drugs, according to the Safety Council. More than 16,000 were from prescription painkillers, which has tripled since 1999.
 
"Out of the 50 states, Missouri ranks 7th in those accidental deaths and poisonings," said Michael Boger, Missouri Bureau of Narcotics.

Boger is the bureau chief for Missouri's Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

He said a change is needed, but the question remains how to prevent overdoses without limiting access to those who need medications.

"We want to be able to prohibit any accidental deaths and poisonings, but at the same time, we don't want to have a bad impact on their effective and legal use," said Boger.

As the conversation continues, leaders hope to develop an action plan for preventing prescription drug abuse here at home and and a larger scale.

The discussion is expected to continue beyond Monday's seminar. Those in attendance say they'll work to identify solutions that can be implement locally and potentially statewide.
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