Prescription drug overdoses down from recent years - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Prescription drug overdoses down from recent years

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The Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office has seen 24 prescription drug overdoses so far this year, but surprisingly that number is down from recent years. 

Officials say the slight decrease is because everybody is on board with eliminating prescription drug abuse. That includes doctors, pharmacists, mental health officials, law enforcement and even the attorney general. All of the agencies know there's a problem and are committed to ending what they say are preventable deaths. 

Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Lockyear says 42 states have a prescription drug monitoring system. Those online systems allow doctors and pharmacists to check a patient's medical history before prescribing any drugs.

Lockyear says overdoses are down because more health professionals are using the systems and identifying individuals that are "doctor shopping" to get pain killers.

He says it's also about public awareness, educating families on signs to look for related to drug abuse.

Lockyear says there is a shared responsibility among doctors and patients to provide and use prescription drugs properly. It's the coroner's job to properly investigate drug overdose deaths and to remove any and all prescription drugs from a scene.

"There's various reasons that we collect the drugs. One is, evidence. If we believe they are related to the death," Lockyear said. "Another is safety for those others involved. Sometimes we get there and they're empty. We don't know at that time whether they've been taken, whether they've been lost."

Officials say there's often a co-dependency among individuals in a household, so removing the prescription drugs after an overdose death could prevent others abusing and also overdosing. 

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