The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force hosted a training today in Fort Wayne to educate law enforcement and prosecutors about prescription drug diversion.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who co-chairs the task force, said the training is the first of five scheduled to take place across Indiana. The trainings will give information about Indiana¹s prescription drug abuse epidemic, how to identify commonly misused medications, investigation and prosecution methods for prescription drug diversion, doctor shopping, pill mills and drug related crimes. Zoeller said the training also covers federal and state laws that apply to prescription drug diversion.
³In order to effectively address Indiana¹s prescription drug abuse epidemic, it is critical that stakeholders like law enforcement and prosecutors have the resources and the information to combat the problem,² Zoeller said.
³Prescription drug abuse is one of the hidden dangers of our time resulting in untold numbers of overdoses. Greater education and awareness of this abuse is key to our ability as a society to begin to stop this frightening trend,² said Jennifer Thuma of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.
Zoeller said pharmaceuticals are commonly being diverted for consumption or sale by family members and friends, healthcare workers, and criminals. National data shows that 71 percent of people abusing painkillers obtained them from friends or relatives. More pharmacy robberies took place in Indiana last year than any other in the nation.
³Opiate drug abuse has become a huge problem in communities across the State,² said Dearborn/Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard who also participated in the training. ³It is very important that law enforcement has the appropriate training to address this problem. The Attorney General’s task force is helping to provide this training.²
Recently, Zoeller and the task force launched www.BitterPill.IN.gov which is a toolkit of resources for Hoosiers to learn more about Indiana¹s prescription drug abuse epidemic and how to get help.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), 718 Hoosiers died from accidental drug overdoses in 2011, compared to 654 deaths the year before. More people abuse prescription drugs in the U.S. than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In addition to the website, the public awareness campaign set off a series of online, print, television and radio service announcements which have already started appearing across Indiana.
In 2012, Zoeller launched the task force made up of state legislators, law enforcement, members of the medical community, health officials, pharmacists, state and local agencies and education providers. The goal of the task force is to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana.