On the online news site for Westchester County, New York, Westchester.com, District Attorney Janet DiFiore, penned an open letter addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic in this country and in her county. Her letter is as informative as it is jarring, containing a number of statistics that are, at the very least, discouraging. But, as we’ve often said before, the first step in finding a solution begins with raising awareness about prescription drug abuse, and so we applaud Ms. DiFiore in her move to do just that. Her letter also serves as an announcement for the commencement of the I-STOP program (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing) in New York. It seems that more and more states nationwide are adopting similar programs in hopes of arming doctors with tools that will help them identify patients who are able to obtain multiple prescriptions for the medications they abuse. Ms. DiFore ends by urging community leaders to contact her office about scheduling presentations to continue to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse.
“In my office, the number of felony prosecutions involving illegal possession or sale of oxycodone and hydrocodone tripled from 2008 to 2012. The non-medical use of prescription painkillers is a growing problem that is also claiming lives in our County and across the country.
Our research indicates that in 2011 and 2012 in Westchester County, 107 people died as a result of a drug overdose. Often a combination of drugs are found to have contributed to the death, including prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine, and the illegal drugs heroin and cocaine. Narcotic pain relievers contain sizeable amounts of opioids in a single dose and can lead to addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that drug overdoses have tripled since 1990 and that 100 people die everyday from drug overdoses in the United States.”