A new task force aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse will compile recommendations for the legislature to act on next session. Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is made up of legislators, law enforcement and health officials, pharmaceutical representatives, state and local agencies and educators.
State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Joan Duwve, who co-chairs the task force, calls prescription drug abuse an epidemic in the state. She says more than one in five Hoosier high schoolers have used a prescription drug for a non-medical purpose.
“Half of them think it’s safer to take a controlled substance – it’s prescribed by a doctor,” Duwve says. “And 60 to 70 percent say that their home medicine cabinet is where they got those drugs.”
Duwve says part of the problem stems from doctors overprescribing pain medication.
“I think folks are hesitant to get rid of them because they may need them again in the future,” she says. “So they put them in their medicine cabinet and then they are just easy prey for teenagers.”
Committees within the task force will focus on education, treatment and recovery, and prescription drug monitoring, disposal and enforcement.