Alabama Launches Campaign to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse

Alabama Launches Campaign to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse

By May Wilkerson 06/12/15

The Zero Addiction campaign will educate people about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs.

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Alabama is set to launch a new campaign aimed at helping the state tackle the scourge of prescription drug abuse, Gov. Robert Bentley and others announced this week.

The Zero Addiction Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention campaign will include radio and TV ads to educate people about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, including painkillers, stimulants, and anti-anxiety medications.

The campaign is being launched by a coalition of state agencies, called the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, and funded by a $125,000 federal grant. In addition to the ads, it includes a website, zeroaddiction.org, which directs people to local addiction treatment facilities and allows people to give anonymous tips to law enforcement about suspicious drug activity.

The overall goal is to raise awareness and start conversations about prescription drug abuse, and to urge people to get help. "If people take enough prescription pain relievers, especially the opioids, those that are given so commonly now, if you take enough of them, you probably will become addicted," said the governor. "So it's a common problem. And so everyone should understand this, people who prescribe them, people who take them."

Officials say a rise in abuse of prescription opioid painkillers is leading to a surge in heroin addiction. Heroin is now ranked as the second greatest drug threat in Alabama, following meth, according to a recent survey. "We've got overdoses all through our state," said Barry Matson, chairman of the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force. "Heroin is displacing crack cocaine, and I never thought those words would come out of my mouth."

Last year, 130 people died of heroin overdoses in Jefferson County. State Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier warned that if the state doesn’t tackle prescription drug abuse, “we're going to be dealing with a heroin epidemic.”

"Our goal is education, prevention and, if necessary, enforcement," said US Attorney George Beck of the Middle District of Alabama, who helped launch the campaign. "By the time it gets to enforcement, whether it's on the state or federal level, a lot of lives would have been ruined and a lot of families broken up and a lot of damage done."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/ @alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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