Prescription drug abuse is at epidemic proportions More education and collaboration is needed to battle the problem Last week, a federal grand jury indicted a Las Vegas doctor, Victor Bruce, for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Bruce, a pain management specialist, allegedly prescribed large amounts of oxycodone while conspiring with local drug dealers to distribute the drugs in Las Vegas.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The problem is so bad that a multi-agency drug-trafficking task force devoted its entire annual training conference to prescription drug abuse and overdoses.

The majority of last year’s 841 accidental drug overdoses in Clark County were due to prescription drugs. You’ve heard the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” The same is true for combating the prescription drug epidemic. We need greater collaboration between not only law enforcement agencies, but also between educators and treatment providers.

A little known side-effect of the growing prescription drug problem is the rise in heroin use. Many individuals who get hooked on prescription drugs end up turning to heroin because it is cheaper and can be more accessible than prescription drugs. 931 Nevadans were treated for heroin addiction last year. That is approximately a 33% increase from the 607 who were treated in 2006.

If you are interested in collaborating with other organizations and individuals trying to bring an end to substance abuse there are several coalitions that would love to have your help. The PACT Coalition and CARE Coalition are always looking for new members.