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From: Jay Frederick
Received: Oct. 22
I still recall the look on the 16-year-old’s face several years ago when I told him he was being arrested for dealing in a look-alike controlled substance. The grin dropped when I explained that selling generic Tylenol to other students for $5 a pill was a felony, just as if he were selling the actual hydrocodone pills he’d represented them to be.
The young man had done what so many teens across America have done — taken old, unused medications from a relative’s medicine cabinet to consume, share or sell.
When he ran out of the real painkillers, he filled the bottle with generic, over-the-counter analgesics. Sadly, he had plenty of unsuspecting young customers willing to play Russian roulette with prescription opioids.
A recent survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Metlife Foundation concluded that parents’ medicine cabinets provided 56 percent of the prescription medication abused by the ninth- to 12th-graders surveyed. Easy access may explain why each day over 2,000 teens abuse prescription drugs for the first time.
Teens aren’t the only ones swiping others’ prescription bottles. Columbus Police Department recognized the link between this drug epidemic and the community’s crime reports, such as theft, burglary — even robbery.
CPD has allocated more resources to tackle this type of drug abuse aggressively. One detective has been assigned to primarily investigate all reports pertaining to prescription drug abuse, and grant money helps fund enforcement and education efforts.
One thing that makes
prescription drug abuse different from our society’s other burdening drug problems like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin is that it’s so preventable.
Just by reducing the number of pills available to those who would swipe them, we can make a big dent in the problem.
That’s why the Columbus Police Department now has a drug drop box at the station. Citizens can anonymously drop off to CPD expired and unused medications for destruction — no questions asked.
Columbus Police Department and Columbus Regional Hospital are also partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration for this Saturday’s National Drug Take-Back Day.
Officers will be in the parking lots of FairOaks Mall and Walgreens on Jonathan Moore Pike from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to collect unused Rx medications for destruction.
Citizens are encouraged to take inventory of their medications, deliver unused pills to one of these drop-off locations and lock up their remaining meds the same as they would secure a loaded gun in their home.
To learn more about prescription drug abuse, visit the website recently launched by the Indiana attorney general, www.bitterpill.in.gov. Speakers are also available for your civic group or organization by calling CPD at 376-2600, or visiting our website at www.columbus.in.gov/police.
Oh, the youngster who was caught selling the pills? He’s not rotting in prison.
He entered the juvenile justice system, which is aimed at correcting delinquency and teaching accountability.
Had any of his customers died from overdosing on the painkillers, the negative impact would have lasted forever.
Now, citizens can partner with law enforcement to prevent the problem before it occurs by dropping off old, unused medications for destruction.
Sgt. Jay Frederick is with the Columbus Police Department, a member of the Indiana Attorney General’s Rx Drug Abuse Task Force and vice president of the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. This letter was received on Oct. 22.
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