INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers can now find information about prescription drug abuse – including how to recognize signs and symptoms and where to find help – on a website created by the Indiana attorney general’s office.
The site – www.BitterPill.IN.gov – is part of a larger statewide public awareness campaign aimed at what Attorney General Greg Zoeller calls a “prescription drug abuse epidemic.”
“Statistics show that abuse and misuse among all age groups is a serious problem in Indiana and that’s a bitter pill for our state to swallow,” Zoeller said in a statement.
“Whether you are seeking ideas on how to talk to your teenager about whether they are abusing prescription drugs, searching for help for yourself or a loved one or just want to know how to properly dispose of your unwanted medications, this new website serves as a one-stop shop,” he said. “I believe consumers need to be armed with information and the right resources so we can try to put an end to this epidemic.”
In 2011, 718 Hoosiers died from accidental drug overdoses, compared to 654 deaths the year before, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
More people abuse prescription drugs in the U.S. than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Zoeller said www.Bitterpill.IN.gov served as an official sponsor of the Indiana State Fair on Friday in attempt to educate more Hoosiers about prescription drug abuse. Dr. Joan Duwve, the state health department’s chief medical officer, serves with Zoeller as co-chair of the task force and said public awareness is a critical component to tackling this statewide problem.
“We have to recognize prescription drug abuse for the serious problem that it is,” Duwve said.
According to the 2011 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, one in five Hoosier high school students has used controlled substances without a prescription.
“Teens have easy access to most of these drugs because they are commonly prescribed and end up in the home medicine cabinet,” Duwve said. “What is perceived as a ‘safe’ high, because a doctor prescribed it, too often ends up being deadly.”
Zoeller said his office and the task force will be announcing more details about the statewide public awareness campaign later this month.