Prescription drug abuse is a growing public health crisis

Published 7:41 am Thursday, September 24, 2015

The skyrocketing increase in prescription drug abuse, especially among our children, is both alarming and deadly.

In fact, abuse of prescription painkillers now ranks second — only behind marijuana — as the nation’s most prevalent illegal drug problem, and more people die from prescription drug overdoses than from gunshots.

Prescription drug abuse is a public health crisis that the Centers for Disease Control has classified as an epidemic.

This is a critical issue facing Michigan and our families, which is why I recently attended a Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse Conference at St. Joseph High School, designed to shed light on an issue that is becoming prevalent in our area.

It has been reported that 90 percent of prescription drug addictions start in teenage years, with some of the most commonly abused prescriptions including Adderall, Xanax and Vicodin.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number one reason given by teens abusing prescription drugs was that they are easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinets.

Prescription drugs, especially pain medication, are readily available and abused. The misuse of these drugs can be terrible, and those addicted to painkillers often turn to heroin. To grasp the grave problem at hand, consider that documented heroin deaths in Michigan increased by more than 50 percent from 2012 to 2013.

I encourage all Southwest Michigan parents to help stop this epidemic of abuse. Talk to your children about the tragic consequences of misusing prescription drugs and please properly dispose of unused or expired prescriptions. Do not flush them down the toilet.

The Berrien County and Cass County sheriff offices offer permanent drop boxes for residents to safely dispose of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications. The drop boxes are located at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office at 321 N. M-62 in Cassopolis and at the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department at 919 Port St. in St. Joseph.

Pill drop-boxes are also located at the Michigan State Police Post at 1600 Silverbrook Ave. in Niles and in the lobbies of the police department in Buchanan, Coloma, Harbert, New Buffalo, Niles and Watervliet.


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.