Florida Prescription Pill Problem a Growing Trend

The fact that prescription medication addiction is a growing problem is dominating headlines. One mother addicted to painkillers falls asleep while her baby drowns in the bathtub; a group high on Xanax seeks money and winds up beating a man to death; an appliance repairman is arrested for stealing pain pills when he should be fixing appliances.

A recent News Journal Online report captured the trend of an American society that is more medicated in general than ever before and one that is growing as a result of a system that doesn’t truly keep track.

"This is the most serious problem facing law enforcement at this time," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said during a recent interview posted in the News Journal Online. "It’s more serious than crack cocaine."

Statistics from the state Health Department show that nine people die of prescription-drug overdoses each week in Florida. The state has been at the forefront of the debate over prescription drug abuse as it is one of the few that does not monitor the number of prescription pills sold.

Florida passed a law last year that could impact the “doctor shopping” problem by limiting the number of pills that can be distributed to patients in a set time period. Other legislation that is still pending is designed to prevent convicted felons distributing pills and increasing access to patient records by the state Health Department.

"They think they still have the pain, but the pain stopped years ago," Circuit Judge Joseph Will, who runs the local drug court, said. "Pretty soon, they’re taking the pills just to stay normal, to be able to function."

"The thing that frustrates me is these are legal drugs being approved by the FDA and manufactured by drug companies," Will said. "The manufacturers and the FDA should be tracing where these pills are going. They ship them out in boxcars. Somebody should be accountable for how many they sell and which doctors are prescribing."