Change the mindset

December 12, 2012

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

There is a thriving new business going on in our community and many people probably still don’t know about it. On the surface you may see a report that some elderly person had their filled prescriptions stolen. And in some cases that may be completely accurate. But just below the surface there is this new subculture in which people are selling the pills from their filled prescriptions.

I read a Scioto County Sheriff”s report that a 63-year-old woman had the following stolen from her purse: 120 count 30 milligram Oxycodone, 120 count 1 milligram Xanax tablets and 60 count 30 milligram morphine tablets. First of all, I am amazed that anyone has that many narcotics prescriptions. But attached to the report was a statement by a woman who says she works for pills.

Here is her statement, “I was on the road in front of her (elderly woman) house and she told me she just got her pills filled and needed me to sell some. I asked her if she needed any work done or if I could do something to make a pill. She said she would find me something to do. She then handed me half an Oxycodone 30 and told me after I sold 10, she would give me a whole one. So throughout the day I was selling 30s, Xanax, and purple footballs for her. I would walk in and hand her the cash and she would reach in her purse and get the pills out for me to take outside to the people buying them.”

I chose not to get into names because the truth is very little happens to the people who do this. I felt it was more important to tell the entire scenario anonymously because I am finding out that this is going on more often than you may care to know.

It turns out that Richard Whitehouse, the former director of the State Medical Board, was right when he told us, “don’t take a victory lap. This is not anywhere near over.”

The drug subculture in our area continues to run rampant, and now the elderly are involved.

I am sure there will be people who say, “These poor people don’t get much money. It’s the only way they can make a little money for the things they need.”

Let me burst that bubble. Selling illegal drugs is just flat wrong and those elderly people ought to be in prison just like the people half their age who have been doing the same thing, only being convicted of trafficking in drugs and going off to prison. Selling drugs illegally is just plain wrong, no matter what excuse you can offer.

Drugs continue to kill people and ruin lives. They continue to be the biggest problem in the area, no matter how much people think that battle is over. The truth is, that battle has just barely begun. We do not need to be taking a victory lap just because we closed some pain clinics. We do not need to be taking a victory lap just because we put some unscrupulous doctors behind bars.

We don’t need to be taking a victory lap just because we passed some legislation in the state. As long as people have prescriptions for Oxycodone, Xanax and Morphine in their purses, we haven’t begun to solve the problem.

We need to change a mindset. And that is more difficult than closing a pain clinic. Doctors have got to stop just wholesale handing out narcotics prescriptions like candy. People have got to stop relying on medicating themselves up all the time. For those of you who just think I am horrible because I have no sympathy for people with genuine pain, I can tell you, that doesn’t work with me. I have heard it all before. People with genuine pain, going to reputable physicians and following a complete pain management regimen, are legitimate and have my complete sympathy. But I believe there is way too much of that stuff out there and now that it has become Scioto County’s number one cash crop, it has gotten way out of hand.

If and when there is a nice influx of industry in the area and we get some good paying jobs, there is one thing that will be an issue to deal with. Before any major corporation will hire anyone, they will need to pass a drug test, and I fear that will limit the workforce availability greatly.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com