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January 30, 2014

Concerns expressed about increase in prescription drug abuse

Knoxville — Looking back on 2013, there is a trend that concerns not only law enforcement, but those in the medical field. That is the abuse of prescription drugs. 

Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said this is a nationwide trend. For the sheriff's office in 2013, reports of prescription drug abuse surpassed those for meth. One of law enforcement's concerns with all forms of drug abuse is that addicts will do whatever it takes to feed their habits. Finding ways to support the habit often include the commission of other crimes. Sandholdt said there have been many arrests recently that are tied to substance abuse in some way. 

For some, feeding another addiction can include selling excess pills, such as painkillers, to those whose vice is the painkiller. If one is selling the drug, one does not really need it. In some cases, excess medications are given away, but that, too, is illegal.

"Some people do not want to believe that giving away or selling their excess meds is illegal, but it is," Knoxville Police Chief Dan Losada said. "We have people tell us about co-workers, friends, and family members asking them if they have any drugs left over after the person has a medical or dental procedure." 

The number of overall prescriptions written today has increased, according to law enforcement. 

"In my 22 years in law enforcement I have seen an increase with doctors prescribing more and more medicines," Pleasantville Police Chief Joe Mrstik said. "Unfortunately family members that don't have health care insurance or simply can not afford it can self medicate themselves using other family's medicine. Obviously this is not healthy and is illegal if law enforcement becomes involved."

Knoxville physician and current President of the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Brent Hoehns, explained that doctors take several precautions when issuing prescriptions. 

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