Medicine abuse in crisis mode

When we think of substance abuse it is easy to focus on illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. But sometimes the legal drugs can be lethal too.

Prescription drug use is taking a toll from coast-to-coast, including right here in Hennepin County.

"We are seeing far too many lives being lost," said Brenda Badger of Twin Cities-based Partnership For Change, "and a lot of people are being affected by this."

The numbers are staggering. In 2010, 38,000 people nationwide died from medicine abuse - more than from either car accidents or gunshot wounds. Experts say easy access to medicine is to blame for the crisis.

"We have a lot of medication simply in our homes," Badger said. "Kids are opportunistic. They look for easy things to experiment with."

Partnership For Change is spotlighting the epidemic with a video released Tuesday. The issue is ground zero for Maple Grove's Becky Scheig. She lost her 19-year old son Andrew to a heroin overdose that was fostered by years of medicine abuse.

"We felt like we were on top of things and our son still had been abusing prescription drugs," Scheig said, "because they were so easy to get."

Scheig has struggled to cope with the loss of her son, but uses the tragedy to get out a crucial message.

"It's out there," Scheig said. "It's rampant in our communities and parents need to be aware of it."

Unfortunately medicine abuse is on the rise, which is why putting drugs out of reach, or disposing of them in area drop boxes, is paramount. Click here for a list of Hennepin County drop-off sites.

Renee Banot, reporting

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


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