Prescription drug abuse rising in Indiana

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More people are abusing prescription drugs in Indiana than the national average. Doctors are trying to figure out how to fight prescription drug abuse among Hoosiers to lower those numbers.

The news is no surprise to Priscilla Tucker, who once found herself on pain medication.

"There are a lot of prescription drug addicts and I sympathize with them, because I have had a lot of surgery done," Tucker said.

"It's gotten worse," said IU Health Dr. Eric Wright.

Wright studies prescription abuse. Experts statewide have several theories why Hoosiers take more pills illegally than people in many other states - a problem that may be systematic.

"One of which, they are easier to get than legal drugs, because they are dispensed through our health care system," Wright said.

In 2010, the last year numbers are available, Indiana doctors wrote more than 11 million prescriptions for controlled drugs, more than five-and-a-half million for pain killers alone. That's nearly two prescriptions for every man, woman and child in the state of Indiana.

When you take your medicine home from the pharmacy, Wright is not only concerned about people getting into your medicine cabinet, but parents are concerned, too, especially about young people.

"Maybe not just young people that are taking prescription drugs, that they should not be taking them. They are buying them and my daughter has some friends that do that," said former prescription patient Brenda Durham.

"They seem to be getting it by stealing it from their parents' and grandparents' medicine cabinets, so treat it like a poisonous substance and lock it up," Wright said.

Until Indiana starts seeing fewer reports on prescription drug abuse cases, every family should closely monitor medicine at home. Wright says what is most alarming is an increase in prescription drug abuse among 18-25 year olds in Indiana.

The top abused prescription drugs are Hydrocodone, Tramadol, Oxycodone, methadone, morphine and codeine.