Upper Arlington News

Guest column

Abuse of prescription drugs more prevalent

By BRIAN QUINN
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In mid-March, Upper Arlington officers responded to concerns of a strange chemical odor emanating from a local apartment complex. Upon investigation, officers observed drug-manufacturing material in the kitchen and noted a strong chemical odor consistent with the manufacturing of illegal drugs.

In this particular operation, we determined that morphine was being used to produce a synthetic heroin and Xanax was being put into a liquid to inject into gumdrop candies.

Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest-growing drug problems in the United States. In fact, a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA, identified abuse of prescription drugs exceeding that of cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin combined.

In addition, recent statistics from the Ohio Department of Health indicate an alarming increase in the number of accidental drug overdoses in Ohio in 2010.

Upper Arlington is not immune to this problem.

We know that many of these drugs are highly addictive and officers are seeing the effects of drug abuse almost daily, whether it is through arrests, disputes, thefts, fights or unintentional overdoses. The user's drug addiction and subsequent behavior inevitably destroy relationships, strip our sense of safety and reduce our overall quality of life.

In an effort to combat this problem, the Upper Arlington Police Division participates in and provides support to the Franklin County Drug Task Force to detect, interdict and apprehend drug offenders and those involved in the illegal manufacturing or selling of these drugs. This force multiplier allows our agency access to regional law enforcement experts who are highly trained in the drug world.

These teams of officers spend many hours training, gathering information and arresting offenders. In 2012, they executed 246 search warrants and sought 400 indictments through the state or federally. The most commonly abused drugs seized during this time were 811 doses of Oxycodone, 430 doses of methadone, 220 doses of Vicodin and 154 doses of Xanax. In addition, more than $28 million worth of non-pharmaceutical drugs were seized.

The Police Division also provides community education and outreach about prescription drug abuse through our DARE and Community Relations unit.

Understanding and knowing about the problem of prescription drug abuse is important, but the Police Division cannot combat this problem alone.

Residents can also do their part to help deter and counteract the prescription and illegal drug abuse in our community. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of possible drug abuse, store prescription drugs in locked and secure locations and dispose of unused or expired medications properly. Contact police if you notice or become aware of unusual or suspicious activity.

National Drug Take-Back Day

A great way to circumvent prescription drug abuse is to remove whatever remains of them from your home after use. To help in this effort, the city is partaking in the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Drug Take-Back Day, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 27.

Collection will take place at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road. This is an opportunity for UA residents to safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets. Items accepted are unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Needles, other sharp objects, syringes, liquids and inhalers are not accepted.

For more information, call the Police Division at 614-583-5150, visit uaoh.net or visit www.go.osu.edu/generationrx.

Brian Quinn is Upper Arlington's police chief.

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