Editorial: Warnings encouraged on painkillers

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:43 PM

Prescription drug abuse kills about 1,000 North Carolinians annually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death rates nationally have more than tripled since 1990. They’ve never been higher.

Daily in the reports from the police and sheriff’s offices in the Tri-County, we are subject to see home break-ins that involve theft of prescription drugs. Law enforcement here and across the state have engaged in medicine drops to help curb the opportunities for bad things to happen when prescription drugs are not used as intended.

Prescription painkillers are among the most frequently abused. And three out of four who misuse them are not the recipient of the prescriptions.

Since 1999, the sale of strong painkillers has risen 300 percent. Prescription drug overdoses from painkillers has mirrored the rise.

North Carolina is among more than 40 states with laws related to prescription drugs. As recently as 1980, there were less than 10.

Included in our state laws are physical examinations before prescriptions can be made, prescription drug limits and patient identification before dispensing.

Among the laws of other states are requirements for tamper-resistant prescription forms, regulations on pain clinics, doctor shopping fraud, and laws providing immunity from prosecution and mitigation at sentencing for individuals seeking assistance during an overdose.

North Carolina is among 36 states with prescription drug monitoring programs.

Warnings are out, but we encourage more. And there’s a new avenue.

Vance County students, who have enjoyed great success in statewide contests, can participate. A video contest is about to open through the combined efforts of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, the N.C. Parent Resource Center, the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse and the state attorney general’s office.

High school students in the state are eligible for the contest and its prizes, which opens Saturday and runs through April 15. More information is available on the ncdog.com website.

Even if the private, charter and public schools in Vance County do not participate in the contest, educators and law enforcement should take advantage of the opportunity. Information is vital to all ages of our community when it comes to prescription painkillers and their risks.

And for the students who choose to compete, we wish them the best.