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Published: Tuesday, 4/22/2014

Lucas County Commissioners, other officials address prescription drug abuse problem


Lucas County Commissioners today officially designated May as Prescription Abuse Awareness & Education Month; one of several steps being taken countywide to address what health and law enforcement officials call a “growing epidemic” in the county.

“Prescription opiates is the real gateway drug; not marijuana, not heroin,” said County Commissioner Pete Gerken during a news conference held at in the lobby of One Government Center this morning.

Commissioners Gerken, Carol Contrada and Tina Skeldon Wozniak were joined by Springfield Township Trustee Andy Glenn, Kyle and April Schalow, also of Springfield Township and co-founders of Rx Memorial Foundation, Matthew Rizzo, executive director of “A Renewed Mind;” Amy Barrett, executive director of AWAKE Community Coalition; and staff from the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office. The group took turns emphasizing the gravity of the prescription drug abuse epidemic and ways Lucas County is working to confront the issue.

In the United States more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs - more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin, according to national health statistics compiled by county officials.

Every day in the United States, an estimated 2,500 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. Prescription drug abuse also accounts for the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdosing.

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office will host their annual “Prescription Drug Take Back Day” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at various locations throughout Lucas County. Residents are encouraged to drop off their unused prescription drugs, which will be destroyed, Sheriff John Tharp said. There is no charge for the service. To find the nearest location visit the search link. On the Web site, leave the county box blank and write the word "Toledo" in the City box and the letters "OH" in the State box and press the "Submit" button."

Rx Memorial Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to community outreach and education on the impact of prescription drug abuse will host an awareness event from noon to 3 p.m., Friday, May 2 at the Shelter House in Springfield Township. Also participating will be America’s Pride, community leaders from Northwest Ohio and drug treatment providers, said Springfield Township Trustee Andy Glenn.

The Lucas County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution during their 10 a.m., board meeting today that would also recognize every first Friday in October as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education Day in conjunction with a National Day of Observance on the issue.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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