The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration says prescription drug abuse has reached alarming levels in Indiana. It’s a trend that mirrors the rest of the nation, similar to that of the crack cocaine abuse of the 1980s. Here in Indiana, though, the DEA says painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone are the drugs of choice among abusers, who tend to be young, white, and to reside in rural areas.
Dennis Wichern, Assistant Special Agent DEA in Indiana, says more than seven million Americans are currently abusing prescription drugs, and that opiate deaths have tripled over the last eight years.
Fairbanks drug counselor Tobyn Linton says painkillers can be a problem that’s easy to ignore; because they are so often prescribed by doctors, they may seem harmless.
“A lot of people get really caught up in that denial, that it’s from a physician so it must be okay,” says Linton. “It carries a great deal of weight, and we do our very best to explain that regardless of where it comes from, this is the end result.”
The DEA says arrests, death rates, and crime linked to illegal use of prescription drugs, including pharmacy break-ins and robberies, have all risen along with the number of drug abusers in the state.