Editorial: Prescription drug deaths on the rise

This is startling news.

If the story had broken at a time other than Election Day, we trust it would have been on the front page.

We refer to the report headlined "Prescription drug deaths rise in Collier, Lee."

According to a study by authorities who have special insights, medical examiners, Collier County had 41 people die from accidental prescription pill overdoses in 2011, for a 17.1 percent yearly increase, while Lee County, whose statistics are blended with those from Glades and Hendry counties for a total of 58 deaths, saw a 13.7 percent increase.

Put another way that might get the attention of the unimpressed, that comes to about one person killed per week in each area.

Collier's percentage increase was slightly higher than statistics recorded in Miami-Dade.

The narcotic oxycodone earns the distinction of being the deadliest prescription drug in Collier, claiming 30 lives.

The cold, hard statistics go to show the importance of public education and enforcement efforts large and small. Locally, the Drug Free Collier organization sponsors Operation Medicine Cabinet drives from time to time, inviting people to bring leftover prescription drugs for safe disposal.

That keeps these pills and liquids out of the hands of those who would abuse them, including youngsters curious about what is in the medicine cabinet in their own or relatives' homes.

The intriguing — or perhaps encouraging — part of our story the other day is that the Collier County Sheriff's Office says the use of illegal pills seems to be on the decline.

If that is so, we eagerly await statistical evidence of that. That would mean fewer deaths.

Parents and others who care about our young people can use this startling report as fodder for conversations with teens. The numbers show experimenting with narcotic prescriptions is not cool. It is deadly.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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