Prescription drug abuse running rampant in Columbus County
A startling statistic coming out of Columbus County; the rural county dispenses the most prescription drugs in the entire state on a per capita basis.
Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten said prescription drug trafficking has well-surpassed the county’s cocaine and marijuana problem.
When prescribed properly, Percosets can be an effective pain killer, but for drug users, they’re an instant high.
“They’ll crush it into a powder form, either ingest it, or sniff it, so it gets into the blood stream faster, and creates a very very active personality in those people,” Sheriff Batten said.
The county is facing the largest prescription drug trafficking problem it has ever seen. Since January, twelve people have died in the county as a result of abusing prescription drugs.
Sheriff Batten says the problem starts in the doctor’s offices. “My physician does not prescribe any medication unless he gives me a full exam on me for the problem I am complaining about.”
If dealers and users can’t get them from the doctor, they’re going to the pharmacy.
“If you look around town, most pharmacies have bars on them now. There is a reason for that. It’s gotten to be such a problem,” said Danny McNeill, Baldwin Woods pharmacy owner.
Most of the time, pharmacist Danny McNeill says they’re looking for drugs like Fentanyl and Oxycontin. He says he gets suspicious when a customer tries to refill their prescription early.
The law states prescriptions can only be filled on or after the refill date, so when someone insists on getting theirs early, it raises a flag they may be trying to distribute the drugs illegally.
And for the people who legitimately need these medications, McNeill says educating them is important too. “I try to explain to them that people are going to try and buy those medications, or steal them. That you need to keep them under wraps, and to not even let folks know that you have it.”
Sheriff Batten has compiled a list of medical professionals whose names keep popping up as having dispersed pills to users in the community. Batten hopes to put together a task force to launch an investigation into these doctors and pharmacists.
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