The battle against prescription drug abuse is one that is not only being waged by those fighting their addictions but also by doctors, healthcare organizations and law enforcement.
Illegal use of prescription drugs has increased so much that, this year, the FDA named it the United Statesâ?? fastest growing drug problem.
April Schalow, a Holland mother of four, agrees telling WNWO â??it's a sicknessâ?|you use these drugs to cover up pain."
A recovering addict herself, Schalow initially started taking painkillers for a back injury but continued to take them even after she healed.
â??[My doctor] kept upping it until I was taking 6 a day and it was Vicodin,â?? Schalow recalls.
In order to curb this kind of prescription drug abuse, by both doctors writing the prescriptions and the patients taking them, both the state of Michigan and Ohio have implemented their own prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).
Both the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) and Ohioâ??s Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) work the same way; requiring physicians and pharmacists enter prescriptions into a database that helps officials keep an eye on who's getting controlled substances and from where.
Likewise, doctors and other medical professionals can use the systems to make sure a patient is not â??doctor shoppingâ??.
In Toledo, a Dr. Donald Weathers has gone a step further to protect his practice from prescription pill abusers.
According to Weathersâ?? receptionist, the doctor doesn't take on new patients seeking prescriptions for painkillers or other controlled substances.
April Schalow wishes she'd met that kind of doctor when she first sought treatment, but admits a person doesn't need a licensed professional in order to feed their habit.
"I was using with family membersâ?|It was someone very close to me and he basically funded my habit,â?? Schalow said of her prescription drug abuse.
For that reason April and her husband, Kyle, decided to organize their own RX epidemic memorial to draw attention to this often under discussed issue.
â??Itâ??s not a necessary thing. Ask your doctor for the non -narcotic pain reliever,â?? Schalow suggested.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse one of the things driving the abuse of prescription drugs is that users think because they prescribed by doctors, they assume they are safe to take under any circumstances.