Officials: Prescription pill abuse an 'epidemic'

INDIANAPOLIS - State officials put a spotlight this month on what they're saying is a prescription pill epidemic.

As part of a two-day conference, officials met with doctors, counselors and recovering addicts – all of whom say overprescribing is a major issue.

For Luc Longmire, the addiction to pills started early. He first got hooked on pills at 16 while being prescribed them for an ear infection and two surgeries.

"It was day after day after day after day," Longmire said. "I had like a whole script of Vicodin. The second time I had surgery, I really kind of wanted the surgery just so I would get the prescription pills."

Doctors kept giving him pills, feeding addition that eventually landed him six months in jail.

"I'm very glad I went to jail," Longmire said. "You know, I got snitched on, and you know I worked the steps and I went back and I thanked him for doing that, because he's the number one reason that changed my life."

State officials say overprescribing is a key contributor to Indiana's opiate epidemic.

For decades, health care professionals have been handing out pills without assessing all the risks. Doctor Palmer Mackie is training the next generation to do things differently.

"Many older physicians didn't deal with practice guidelines," Mackie said. "They didn't have protocols that were mandated. Younger physicians, medical students, they are used to this. This is just part of their normal practice."

The Attorney General's Office maintains a website called Bitter Pill aimed at helping those affected by prescription pill abuse.

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