STEPPING UP PRESCRIPTION DRUG PREVENTION IN 2010

The increased misuse of prescription drugs in Broward County has not gone unnoticed by law makers or law enforcement. The Broward County Medical Examiner had more than 500 drug-related overdose deaths last year and statistics show that more than 25,000 people die from unintentional drug overdoses in our nation annually. Frequently, a variety of illicit drugs and prescription drugs were the direct and immediate cause of the victim’s death. Most people do not realize the hazards associated with combining pharmaceuticals with illicit drugs. Oftentimes, mixing drugs can create an unintended and unpredictable lethal mixture.

Our undercover operations revealed many out-of-state drug addicts and dealers are coming into Broward County to obtain prescriptions for narcotics from pain clinics. These clinics are known as “pill mills” and the patients are “doctor-shopping” – looking for willing doctors to dispense drugs. In November 2009, the Broward Grand Jury recommended 18 steps to clean up Florida’s “pill mills.” The most important step – implementing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) – which is an electronic database to track excessive dispensing of prescription drugs to doctor-shopping patients. If these recommendations are followed it will go a long way in eliminating prescription drugs prescribed to dealers and addicts in Broward County.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office continually conducts law enforcement operations to target illegal prescription drug abuse, but in 2010 we are stepping up our efforts with an important educational component. Through FDLE’s Byrne/JAG stimulus grant funding we were able to hire a prescription drug prevention specialist – Christine Sawyer. Ms. Sawyer will provide prescription drug prevention and education presentations to community and homeowner associations, middle and high school students and child based organizations.

Additionally, our agency, in partnership with The United Way’s Commission on Substance Abuse, are planning a multitude of prescription drug “take back” programs throughout Broward County. Participants can drop off their unwanted or unused prescription drugs with no questions asked and receive a $5.00 gift card to local stores and pharmacies. To schedule a prescription drug prevention presentation for your community group or organization or to learn more about our prescription “take back” program, e-mail christine_sawyer@sheriff.org or call 954.202.3145.

The men and women of the Broward Sheriff's Office are committed to eliminating the prescription drug abuse problem in this county, but we need your help. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, there are many organizations that can assist you. I encourage you to call 2-1-1, Broward’s 24-hour crisis hotline. If you have information about someone dispensing prescription drugs illegally in Broward County, visit our website www.sheriff.org and click on the contact us form to report it.

I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy New Year!

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