U.S. Attorney's Office for North Texas Joins the Partnership at Drugfree.org's "Medicine Abuse Project" to Target Prescription Drug Abuse
DALLAS — U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Community has joined the Partnership at Drugfree.org to promote the “Medicine Abuse Project,” a multi-year campaign intended to curb the abuse of medicine while encouraging parents and the public to take action.
The Northern District of Texas, one of 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, is planning several events in coordination with the campaign. The district’s primary focus will be on educating members of the community about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter medicines with the goal of curbing teen medicine abuse and ultimately saving lives.
“The statistics are alarming; prescription drug abuse is an epidemic, especially among our teens,” said U.S. Attorney Saldaña. “I’m honored to work with local partners including the Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, the Dallas Area Drug Prevention Partnership and various police departments, as well as with our federal partners, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, in this important initiative. One of the first successes of this partnership was last weekend’s local record-setting collection of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescriptions on Drug Take-Back Day.”
“Prescription drug abuse has become a serious public health and safety issue and it is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem,” said DEA Dallas Division’s Special Agent in Charge James L. Capra. “In working together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our state and local law enforcement partners, the medical community, anti-drug coalitions, and a concerned public, the DEA took in 14,468 pounds of drugs, from 70 collection sites in the DFW area, through the Drug Take-Back campaign and the Medicine Abuse Project.”
According to the Partnership, the consequences of medicine abuse, including emergency room episodes, treatment admissions and overdose deaths, have increased dramatically, and it is a behavior that starts in adolescence. Every day, 2,500 teens use a prescription drug to get high for the first time, and the death toll from prescription painkillers alone has tripled in the past decade. Due to these high levels of prescription drug abuse, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, outpacing fatalities from car accidents. If the human toll were not enough, it causes an enormous drain on our economy, with the health care costs related to this behavior totaling $72.5 billion annually.
“We are deeply grateful to the United States Attorneys’ Offices around the nation for joining this collaborative Project to effectively address the intentional abuse of prescription and over-the-counter cough medicine,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “The U.S. Department of Justice has been an active supporter of our innovative community-based prevention programs. Forging new relationships with partners in the federal criminal justice community is a significant strategic step forward as we build a sustained public/private initiative. The influential voice of the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will help greatly in educating parents and teens about the significant and largely underestimated risks of medicine abuse.”
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