Wisconsin News

Study says prescription drug abusers get pills from family and friends

Experts say you can do things at home to prevent this from happening

Prescription Drug Abuse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - It's no secret that some people addicted to painkillers will stop at nothing to get their next fix, but a new study suggests it could be happening closer to home than you think.

A new study published in Jama Internal Medicine on Monday shows most prescription drug abusers are getting the drugs free from friends and family.

Casey Bablitch, a chemical dependency counselor with Gundersen Health System, said it's a situation he sees all too often, but there are some things that you can do to prevent this from happening at home.

People who are addicted to painkillers often turn to drug dealers or the black market when they run out of pills, but now some are looking a little closer to home.

"Adolescents are coming in at fairly young ages now, and they are getting medication that oftentimes is prescribed to their parents," said Bablitch.

"If they get their hands on a full prescription bottle that nobody's going to miss and you sell it individually, you can make quite a bit of money doing that, so it is tempting for people to do that as well," said Keith Lease, executive director of Coulee Council on Addictions.

So how can it be prevented? Homeowners can start by putting the medication someplace safe.

"Getting it out of the medicine cabinet because that is often the first place people will look," said Lease,

If you don't use the medication anymore, get rid of it.

"If anybody is prescribed a medication they no longer need, it's a good idea that it is disposed of properly," said Bablitch.

The La Crosse Heroin Task Force is in the process of creating 24-hour medication drop off sites, but it is running into a few problems.

"There are a lot of questions on what regulations have to be followed through the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), through state legislation and what exactly is required," said Lease.

Another thing to consider is finding a place for all the medication to be stored after it is collected.

"The Onalaska Police Department is one of those drop-off sites and it gets loaded with boxes and boxes of prescription drugs and so where do you store that securely and safely?" said Lease.

Although it's still a work in progress, Lease said it will all be worth it in the end.

"The desire to do it is there, and I think we will get it done, but we want to make that we are doing it right, that we are doing it safe and not just doing something to do it," said Lease.

Local physicians are also taking steps to cut down on over-prescribing painkillers by using the "prescription drug monitoring program."

By using the prescription drug monitoring program, local physicians are also taking steps to cut down on over prescribing painkillers

If a doctor thinks the patient is seeking drugs, the doctor can head to a website to see if that patient has received prescriptions from any other providers in the area. That way they can make sure they are not over prescribing medication to anyone.

Lease said only about 7 to 8 percent of physicians actually use the prescription monitoring program on a daily basis, so there is definitely room for improvement.

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