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Bringing awareness to prescription drug abuse | News

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Bringing awareness to prescription drug abuse

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Local law enforcement and state agencies are meeting in Little Rock for a Prescription Drug Summit.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says in a press release, "Our state has historically had one of the largest problems of prescription drug abuse - especially by children - of anywhere in the nation. By the time Arkansas high school students have reached their senior year, roughly one in five have abused prescription drugs."

But, McDaniel says we have come a long way combating prescription drug abuse. He said in the press release, "Over the past three years, youth abuse rates have dropped and we are working to continue this welcome trend. Arkansas has conducted three successful prescription drug take back events that have yielded over twelve tons of no-longer-needed medications from family medicine cabinets in Arkansas."

By the time a student becomes a senior there is a more than one in five chance they have already abused prescription drugs. Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in our state, affecting our children, friends and neighbors. Our neglecting to get rid of our old pills could be contributing to the problem. That's only the beginning.

Prescription drug abuse affects thousands of Arkansans and it's a problem Skip Mooney knows all too well; his son battled with addiction.

"During one of his high school games he had a concussion and he started having anxiety attacks and panic attacks," says Mooney.

Doctors prescribed medicine to help with the attacks and that's when Mooney says the problem began.

"The medicine wasn't really working for him, so by the time he got to college he found the medicine that helped him with the panic attacks its hydrocodone and xanax."

Mooney says when a person is involved with drugs it impacts the whole family. "It was absolutely horrible, when he came to us he couldn't go without withdrawals for more than three days." With time and education, Mooney saw his son overcome the problem.

They're not alone, close to 10 percent of today's seniors use prescription drugs for non medical reasons.  It's a problem McDaniel attributes to convenience with unused prescriptions sitting in the medicine cabinet long after they're no longer needed.  

"You are placing them at risk of being stolen or taken by your children or grandchildren or their friends," he says. "They find their way to the streets from the most innocent of sources and they are poisoning our children."

Mooney adds being educated about drug abuse is one of the key components to beating it and getting your kids back on the right track. "He's brilliant, he's a talented musician and moving to Orlando to go to engineering school."

Mooney started an organization to help people in their community just like his son. It's called "Out of the Dark" and geared toward people with drug abuse problems.

You can find where the collection site nearest you at ArTakeBack.org.

And here are some local prescription drug take back events going on you can participate in:

Little Rock: http://on.kthv.com/IUiQhM
Benton/Bryant: http://on.kthv.com/IUjfRs
Pine Bluff: http://on.kthv.com/IUjuMn