Doctor: Stop sharing prescription pills, overdose deaths on the rise

Study committee found accidental drug overdose deaths on the rise in Allen County

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The growing number of deaths was shocking to the doctors who looked back on the data here in Allen County.  People are dying due to a lethal cocktail of medicine.  Most of which experts say did not belong to them, but to family or friends.

Dr. Deb McMahan at the Fort Wayne/Allen County Health Department told NewsChannel 15 the problem starts with your medicine cabinet.  Lots of people hold onto prescription pills they’re no longer taking, and they’re getting into the wrong hands.

“That’s a common misconception that well they are prescription drugs so they are safe,” Dr. Deb McMahan said.

Experts in the study committee found over the last six years more than 270 people in Allen County died due to accidental prescription drug overdose.  Something that could have easily been prevented.  Doctors urge people who share pain pills and other prescription medicine with family and friends to stop.

“I don’t know why people think antibiotics and pain relievers and narcotics are different somehow. They are still medications that when I’m prescribing them, I know the situation I’m prescribing them for. I know the patient. It doesn’t mean I’m writing them as a general prescription for anybody.”

What the group found was a more than 50 percent increase in prescription drug overdose deaths since 2008.

  • In 2010 – 13 out of every 100-thousand people died due to overdose.
  • 2013:  it jumped to 17
  • (Data for other years was not available)

That means we now have as many drug overdose deaths as we do car accident deaths.  More men than women died.  Primarily middle-aged with the average age of 43 who were on multiple drugs – commonly pain and anti-anxiety medication.

The message to you at home: it’s time to clean out the medicine cabinet:

“You want to prevent that opportunity of other people accessing medications that you are not using. I know that we like to be thrifty. We might need that in the future, but someone will right that for you in the future if you need it in the future.”

Never flush medicine.  Instead, drop it off at a drug drop box.

Drug drop box locations in Allen County:

  • Fort Wayne Police Department
    1 E Main St
    Fort Wayne, Indiana 46803
    24 Hour
  • Indiana State Police Post
    5811 Ellison Rd
    Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804
    24 Hour
  • New Haven Police Department
    815 Lincoln Highway East
    New Haven, Indiana 46774
    24 Hour

If you live outside of Allen County, click here to find a drug drop box location near you.



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