St Albans Conference On Prescription Drug Abuse Draws 75 2009: St Albans

St Albans conference on prescription drug abuse draws 75

ALBANS — Dr. Edward Haak of Fairfield warned a prescription drug addiction conference Saturday that the struggle to confront the problem in the Franklin County region will be difficult at times. “This is not going to be an easy journey,” Haak, director of the Northwestern Medical Center’s emergency department, told about 75 participants in the daylong event at Bellows Free Academy. “It’s also a complicated journey.” Haak, who helped put together the conference as part of an ongoing effort to educate the public and doctors about the prescription drug abuse problem, told the audience how he got another lesson on the complexity of the issue Friday night. “It was about 10 p.m. and I had stopped back at the hospital,” he said. “A doctor there told me he had a teenager in earlier who was hallucinating out of his mind.” Haak said the doctor had handled the situation the best he could but told him, “I don’t know what to do.” Attendees were told that area residents have turned in 29,000 prescription pills to the city police department as part of an effort to reduce the chances those drugs will fall into the wrong hands and be abused. In March, police announced they had thwarted a major prescription drug dealing operation with the arrest of 14 people and the seizure of 1,000 oxycodone tablets from one of the suspects following his arrest in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Haak told the participants the problem is complex because many of those ensnared by addiction to powerful pain medications like OxyContin are either youths who thought using such drugs for recreation was safe, or people who had a legitimate need for the drug but fell prey to its addictive qualities.
“I would do pills as soon as I woke up and until I went to bed,” said Katie Tanner of St. Albans, who survived a near overdose on opiates and will celebrate two years of being “clean” today. “It helped numb the pain I felt. It made life easier for me.”

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