Task Force To Fight Prescription Drug Abuse - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/01/03

Task Force To Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Area pharmacies will soon have the attention of four full time narcotics officers, focusing exclusively on finding prescription forgeries.

Gulfport Police Captain Pat Pope says, "That's going to be part of their job, is going out looking for the prescriptions. They're not going to wait for it to come to them. They're going to be going to the pharmacies and they're going to be looking for them."

The agents will also look for doctors who write unnecessary prescriptions. Officers say the newly formed drug diversion unit gives priority to a crime that, until now, is sometimes pushed aside.

"The abuse of prescription drugs is becoming much more prominent, and I believe this will have a positive impact on it in both our communities," Long Beach Chief Harley Schinker says.

"We have some real concern for our young people. It's estimated that there's some 20 million people nationwide that are addicted to some type of prescription drug," Gulfport Assistant Chief Steve Barnes says.

Narcotics officers say marijuana and cocaine are still the drugs of choice, but they say it's prescription pain killers, like methadone and oxycontin, that are getting people hooked. They say the drugs have a legitimate purpose in fighting chronic pain, but are extremely addictive.

"The addiction is a lot more powerful than people believe. It's very powerful. I tell people who are addicted to it, I say this addiction is stronger than you alone. You need help in getting off these drugs," Pope says.

The officers say they need help too in battling the growing addiction problem and teaming up will give them more resources to save lives.

The officers will work in Hancock, Harrison and Stone Counties.

byMarcia Hill

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