Officer: Unguarded medication could fuel drug abuse
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force member Josh Rauch didn’t sugar-coat the reality behind the state of the county’s prescription drug abuse problem on June 20 at the Pelham Senior Center.
“It’s unreal what people will ingest to get high or to make them feel a different way,” Rauch told the group of about 20 seniors. “There are all kinds of medications in your home that people would be willing to break into your house and steal, or, God forbid, harm you to get.”
Last year, the Drug Enforcement Task Force confiscated 175 pounds of illegal prescription drugs.
“To put that into perspective, a Lortab pill weighs 0.5 grams. There are 1,000 grams in 2 pounds,” Rauch said. “The fastest-growing drug problem is prescription drug abuse. Eighty-five to 95 percent of what we do is prescription medication related.”
Some youth begin abusing prescription drugs as early as 11 years old, Rauch said.
Local officers routinely respond to “fish bowl parties,” during which youth fill fish bowls with an assortment of prescription drugs before ingesting handfuls of pills while drinking alcohol.
“That’s how a lot of overdoses happen,” Rauch said.
The Task Force also has seen a rise in cases involving “doctor shopping,” in which a person visits several doctors in a short amount of time to stock up on prescription drugs.
“They are so addicted that they have to do that to feed their addiction, or they are selling it to make a living,” Rauch said.
Rauch encouraged the seniors to secure any prescription medication they have in their homes, and to always keep track of how many pills are in their possession. Once medication is expired or unneeded, Rauch encouraged the seniors to dispose of it properly.
“Will we ever be able to stop prescription drug abuse? Hopefully,” Rauch said. “Hopefully we can at least make a dent in it.”