LCO Tribe Battles Prescription Drug Abuse

Posted at: 03/30/2013 6:41 PM
Updated at: 03/30/2013 11:26 PM
By: Travis Dill

Over 70 people listened to a panel of experts explain the issue of prescription drug abuse in Hayward on Saturday, but the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe knows the deadly consequences all too well.

Tribal Chairman Gordon Thayer said the abuse has been a problem for years in the community. Tribe leaders said a man's death on Thursday was connected to prescription drugs.

“We've had approximately 10 deaths as a result of this in the last year, and one is too many,” Thayer said.

The tribe hopes to take part in the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which is set to launch in June.

Doctors and pharmacies across the state will record the medications they distribute in an attempt to prevent abusers from obtaining multiple prescriptions.

Dave Ross is Wisconsin's secretary of Safety and Professional Services. He said the record keeping measure is a start to curbing the problem.

“So this is hopefully going to end doctor shopping. It's going to end the kind of abuse where one goes to multiple physicians to get the same drug,” Ross said.

The panel experts said prescription drug abuse is a problem nationwide. Dr. David Brown of the Cleveland Clinic said 1 in 9 teenagers are using the drugs and some are paying with their lives.

“As a young male now, 16 to 25, you are as likely to die of a prescription drug overdose as you are a motor vehicle accident and that's a little bit amazing,” Brown said.

He said prescription monitoring programs will help, but society needs to take a closer look at the issue.

“When you get back to the root of this, much of it gets back to the family. People don't like to hear that because that's a criticism of our entire culture,” Brown said.

Chairman Thayer agreed, and he hoped the discussion will engage the LCO community.

“I believe the solution to this is to have the community buy in and say, “We're sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we're going to step up to the plate,'” Thayer said.

The experts said prescription drug abuse is growing. State and tribal leaders said they must try to prevent the issue's deadly effects, and they hoped the discussion was just the first step.