Addiction Prevention Coalition News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — More than a hundred people have died from prescription drug overdoses in Jefferson County this year.  The problem is so bad that more people have overdosed or died because of prescription drugs in Jefferson County than have been killed in all the homicides in our entire viewing area combined.

“I’ve heard some stories of a child that has said that he can go to any house, in any community, anywhere and come out with some type of opiate,” says Sandor Cheka of the Addiction Prevention Coalition.

That was certainly the case for Elizabeth Drennen, now clean for a decade, she started using pills in high school.

“When I tried it, I loved the way it made me feel,” says Drennen. “I remember feeling some immense relief and thinking this is how I want to feel for the rest of my life.”

From raiding medicine cabinets to doctor shopping to overdosing, Drennen says her addiction was fierce.

“I thought of myself as different,” she explains. “Like I’m not a drug addict, because these are prescription drugs or because I need them because they make me feel better.”

These days she works with Cheka at the Addiction Prevention Coalition. They say pill addiction has taken on a new face.

“The number one rising demographic we see is women ages 35 to 49 that are starting to use prescription drugs,” he claims. “And not just use them, but abuse them on a daily basis.”

Lt. Matt Davis of the Jefferson County Narcotics Unit says Vice confiscates hundreds of pills a month. With a street value ranging from $20 to $120, selling prescription drugs is big business and in the wrong hands deadly.

“Anytime you have people abusing medications, says Davis, “Using them without medical supervision, using them without a lot of times knowing what they’re doing, especially young people, unfortunately the results can be fatal.”

One of the ways pills get in the wrong hands is by theft of old or unused medications. Now both Mountain Brook and Pelham Police Departments have drop boxes in their lobby where you can safely dispose of the medications.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News
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