The Scourge of Death from Prescription Drug Overdose in Southern Ohio
As a lifelong citizen of Scioto County, as a family man who has a stake in the future of our region, and as a physician who has dedicated my life to the health and well-being of my patients, I am appalled by the toll that prescription drug abuse has taken on southern Ohio.
One of the first actions I took when I became the Scioto County Coroner in 2002 was to ensure thorough forensic investigation of suspected drug deaths. What I found was alarming. On average since 2002, half or more of the autopsies that I ordered revealed deaths caused directly or indirectly by drugs. I found that, overwhelmingly, these overdoses were due to prescription medications. My statistics have been used by our local and state health departments to highlight the true extent of this tragic epidemic.
I have long sounded a call to action on this terrible problem, and now many individuals and agencies are mobilizing to respond.
I know this to be a complex problem that is broad in scope and that defies simple solutions. I know that real solutions will require a comprehensive approach with all parties working together.
The Symposium on Drug Poisonings that was held on 21 October 2009 at the Scioto County Welcome Center in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health Poison Action Group initiative was a step in the right direction, but it was only a step. Much more must be done!
I call on all concerned citizens to partner with elected officials, law enforcement agencies, drug treatment personnel and clergy to attack and defeat this problem.
Even as you read this, deaths from prescription drug overdose and drug related crime continue unabated throughout southern Ohio. What we need is a united effort by all. I have proposed that we form a Community Drug Task Force, an Action Group, which we can use as a platform to enable and sustain our efforts.
This is truly an epidemic, a plague, an absolute blight on humanity that knows no socioeconomic or ethnic boundaries. It impacts all of us as a community and, sadly, many of us personally. It's time that we all pitched in to put an end to it!