Many searching for answers in prescription painkiller crisis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Efforts are underway in Indianapolis to curb the crisis of kids and abuse of prescription painkillers.

Oxycontin, Oxycodone, soon, perhaps Zohydro–prescription painkillers that are easily abused and some believe are the gateway drugs to skyrocketing heroin addiction among Indianapolis’ and the nation’s young people.

“There’s a sense that heroin is bad but prescription drugs are good because it comes from a pharmacy, or it comes from a doctor. We’re trying to avoid that. And show that thinking, those prescription drugs can lead to heroin and abuse,” says IMPD Deputy Chief Bryan Roach.

Roach is among the dozens working together at a workshop called Painkillers in their Backpacks. Law enforcement, schools and health community are trying to slow the rise of painkillers and heroin abuse, by finding new ways to approach the problem.

“And I think for IMPD to look at this as a public health issue and not as a law enforcement issue I think is so key,” says Bruce Carter, Coordinator of Wellness at Wayne Township Schools.

Carter is on the front line of the effort to make students understand how lethal prescription drugs can be.

“It’s just very common, very easy for kids not to recognize that as something harmful,” he says.

According to IMPD statistics, 215 people in the metro Indianapolis area died of accidental overdose last year. 167 had opiates in their system at the time of death. The addition of Zohydro to the mix–a painkiller that is five to 10 times stronger than Oxycodone–could make the problem worse. The drug just coming to market is already on everyone’s radar.

“If it’s out there it will be around. It’s amazing how quickly these things do pop up,” says Carter of Wayne Township Schools.

The fight to keep children from abusing those drugs, they say, starts in the home and radiates throughout the community.

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