Drug overdose deaths in Indiana have quadrupled over the last decade, with a majority of those a result of prescription drug abuse.
The state has the 17th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country. And since 1999, only three other states have seen their overdose mortality rate increase as much as Indiana.
Trust for America’s Health Deputy Director Rich Hamburg says one factor that contributes to Indiana’s problem is pain reliever sales that are considerably higher in the state than many of its neighbors. And Hamburg says addressing the problem begins with education.
“That particularly those in high risk groups – teenagers, young adults, their parents – need to be aware that certain pain medications can become addictive and to learn the consequences of misuse in using them and the alternative ways to control pain.”
He says Indiana is doing some good things to combat prescription drug abuse, such as its use of a prescription monitoring system that helps prevents people from ‘doctor shopping’ – getting the same prescription from several doctors.
Hamburg says he’d also like to see the state expand its Good Samaritan laws that protect people from prosecution in life-saving situations.
“If somebody is overdosing and it’s been an abuse of a prescription drug, they might hesitate to go to a physician. So we want to remove that barrier and we want to expand Good Samaritan immunity for full immunity or mitigation of sentencing.”
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