The rise of prescription drug abuse in Jackson County, NC

She got her hair from her mom, her eyes from her dad and her drugs from her grandmother’s medicine cabinet.  Is this what you want people to say about someone close to you?

Jackson County, in April, hosted a “Lunch and Learn” class at the Community Service Center about the growing prescription drug abuse problem. The featured guests included Dr. Thomas Lindsay, MD of Mountain Area Family medicine and Fred Brason from Project Lazarus. The speakers discussed treatments for different kinds of prescription drug addictions, how to help our community, and the importance of being aware of the issue.

“There are about 40,000 people in Jackson County,” said Fred Brason.  “Between the years 2008 and 2010 there were around 75,000 prescriptions made.”

Dr. Lindsay said typically his patients are between 16 and 18 years old when they first experiment with a family member or friend’s prescription drugs.

The problem extends beyond the community of Jackson County. The prescription drug abuse is a problem on the campus as well.

“The most commonly abused prescription drugs used here on campus are: opiods which are prescribed to treat pain; central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders and stimulants that are prescribed to treat sleep disorders, narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD),” said Buchanan.

“This is a problem because students do not think about the dangers if they take prescription medicine and then add alcohol on top of that,” said Miles Komuves, WCU’s Coordinator for Alcohol and Drug Education.

The need for prescription drugs does not stop with the younger students.

According to Jennifer Green, Physician Assistant at WCU, there are the occasional elder students who come into the Student Health Center with chronic pain and need medication to help.

Doctors, pharmacists and other health care employees are learning how to keep a close eye on the problem in western North Carolina, but this is not the only area experiencing it.

The number of counties with prescription drug abuse problems in North Carolina has tripled since 2000. To decrease the amount of drug abuse cases, communities need to collect data, raise awareness to the community, implement what needs to be done, and take action.  Once some time has passed, evaluate again and see if there was any progress.

To stop people from stealing medicines in your own household try purchasing a medication lock box with a combination dial attached.  Then contact a local physician to arrange a treatment plan.

To learn more, there will be a follow-up class on May 8, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Community Service Center.