Today, more than ever, teenagers and adults are abusing drugs that are typically designed to help patients suffering from chronic pain. The Office of National Drug Control Policy states a number of published studies indicate the main drugs being abused are pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives.
An organization, FBI-Leeda, is a non-profit corporation with a goal to advance the science and art of law enforcement leadership and management and is instrumental in a local seminar designed to train law enforcement on how to curb prescription drug abuse.
In May, over 100 law enforcement officials from across Florida, including local law enforcement and government agencies, attended a seminar to help fight illegal trafficking and abuse of these drugs.
The seminar was co-sponsored by the Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (CFHIDTA). Purdue Pharma L.P., a privately held pharmaceutical company known for pioneering research on chronic pain, also provided educational support. Attendees also learned how to deter pharmacy theft with a program called RxPATROL.
This program teaches pharmacists how to guard against robberies and burglaries as well as how to assist law enforcement in catching pharmacy crime suspects. Steve Collins, Deputy Director of CFHIDTA was in attendance and said, “It is vital for our law enforcement community to keep abreast of changing trends in order to learn to identify the problems associated with this abuse and take steps to prevent it.” Collins adds, “This training will provide vital tools for law enforcement and the criminal justice community and shows the benefits of public and private sector resources working together for public safety.”
Landon Gibbs, a Law Enforcement Liaison from Purdue Pharma, led the education session of the seminar. Gibbs has almost 30 years of law enforcement experience and experience with investigating the illegal trafficking of prescription medications.
Gibbs brought up the issue that many are concerned about which is how illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription medications can interfere with the care of people with serious illnesses and injuries. Gibbs said, “These medications have a legitimate purpose when used as directed, however, abusing prescription medications can have dangerous and even deadly consequences and can make it harder for people who need these medications to get them.
” The White House Drug Policy site instructs patients to dispose of their prescription drugs via the trash unless the label instructs differently. It has been debated that when drugs are flushed or disposed of in the sink, the medicine is easily added to the water supply.
The site also asks patients to discard expired medicine via trash as well and cited the most abused categories of prescription drug abuse as painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin, depressants such as Xanax and Valium, stimulants like Ritalin and steroids which can cause cancer, liver cysts, severe acne and hair loss. Gibbs concluded, “People should secure medications in the home, encourage friends and relatives to safeguard their medications and ask their pharmacist about how to properly dispose of medications they no longer need.”