Ind. health officials: Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS - Monday's arrest of Colts owner Jim Irsay brought to light an addiction struggle shared by thousands of Hoosiers.

In 2002, Irsay admitted that he was addicted to painkillers. Dr. Joan Duwve, chief medical officer for the State Department of Health, said that Monday's incident is a chance to bring awareness to Indiana's prescription drug abuse problem. In 2011, nearly 350 Hoosiers died after overdosing on prescription pills – a 400 percent increase since 1999.

"Indiana is the 17th highest state in the nation for prescription drug overdose deaths, so we do have a problem. It's an epidemic," Duwve said.

Recently the State Department of Health teamed up with the Attorney General's office to launch a website to help educated Hoosiers. By logging on to www.bitterpill.in.gov, Hoosiers may find information and resources for those trying to recover.

St. Vincent Health Hospital Therapist Adam Allman said prescription drug abuse isn't limited to a particular group.

"Anybody that's not aware of the dangers of it is susceptible to it. It doesn't know any age limits, it doesn't know any class, and it doesn't know any culture. It will grab anybody at any time," Allman said.

For more information on prescription drug abuse, click here.

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