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Reporter's Notebook

July 9, 2011

Reporter’s Notebook: Prescription drug abuse rising at alarming rate

The fight against drug use is focusing on just saying “no’’ to pills from the medicine cabinet at home.

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States, according to law enforcement officials who organized a summit on awareness and prevention last month.

Police and leaders in public health, pharmaceuticals, health care and education fields met June 16 for a New York Rx Summit at the state police academy in Albany, a media release said.

The summit was convened by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, the Drug Enforcement Administration, state police and many other organizations. Training on combating the diversion of prescription drugs for illegitimate use was provided by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and others.

The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 52 million Americans age 12 and older had used prescription drugs non-medically; 2.6 million Americans age 12 and older had used prescription drugs nonmedically for the first time within the past year.

The 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five high school students in the United States had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, the release said, among other studies cited.

The release from the summit also mentioned ways to reduce illegal use of prescription drugs. Measures suggested included teaching parents, youth, patients, and health care providers about the dangers of the misuse of prescription drugs.

“Parents also are critical partners in this effort,’’ U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. He urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs and dispose of unused, unneeded and expired medications.

“Working together, we can reduce the risk of harm to our children and save lives,” Hartunian said in the release.

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