How big is the problem?
Kids who cant pass
science class have figured out how to take regular (legal) medicines
and transfer them into something dangerous, Osgood Town
Marshal John Hegge told those gathered at a Youth Workers
Café, sponsored by the Ripley County Council Against Substance
Marshal Hegge gave a powerpoint presentation on the Abuse and
Misuse of RX or prescription drugs, which he referred to as Pharmaceutical
The problem of misuse of prescription drugs ranks high in Ripley
County as 30% of drug charges in 2008 were related to this type
of drug. Hegge believes that figure has risen sharply this year.
The drugs Hegge referred to are perfectly legal when taken for
the problem they are prescribed for - in the exact amount and
manner prescribed. However, that is not what is happening. Pills
are being crushed, snorted and shot directly into the vein for
The new drug of choice is easily accessible and can provide a
drug addict the high theyre looking for. It can range from
hydrocodone (vicodin, loratab, lovcet) to benzodiazepines such
as xanax, valium and diazapam.
While these prescription drugs have medical value, they are being
widely abused with the results being deadly, according to Hegge,
who has extensive training in drug interdiction. Since he has
been addressing the issue in Southeastern Indiana he said hes
seen 24 deaths with families saying they knew their loved one
had a problem, but didnt think theyd wind up dead.
The problem isnt new - it dates back to the Civil War era
where Hegge says morphine was widely prescribed.
He explained one of the worst forms of abuse with pharmaceuticals
occurs at health care facilities. Hegge noted that nursing personnel
will substitute prescriptions with baby aspirin or water and then
use or sell the real drug prescribed. This is the most sinister
form of diversion and worthy of serious prison time, he
told the group.
Here you have a helpless sick person not getting the medicine
they need and a drug addict or seller making a profit on them.
Hegge said those involved with the drug scheme will doctor
shop going to multiple doctors to get the same medicines,
which are either taken illegally and/or sold.
Obtaining prescription drugs can be lucrative with a fentanyl
patch going for up to $100 and pills such as vicodin having a
street value of $6-$10 each. Hegge said a common addiction level
is 15-20 pills per day - which can be an expensive habit.
Street prices vary according to the pharmaceutical available.
See Something - Say Something was a headline on the Powerpoint.
Educate yourself and others, Hegge encouraged. He
said the problem is huge and consumes time that many small departments
simply do not have to devote to the rising problem.
Marshal Hegge noted from the Osgood Police Department alone so
far in 2009, 46 drug cases have been tied to pharmaceuticals with
80% of those involving doctor shopping.
Hegge referred to the escalating problem as a nasty animal
asking those attending the luncheon held at the Ripley County
Department of Children Services to be on the alert.
Over the counter medications are also a big problem. One of the
main ingredients to manufacture methamphetamine is psuedophedrine
found in many over the counter cough and cold medicines.
Attending the event on November 24 were a variety of professionals
ranging from employees of the prosecutors office, SIEOC
Head Start, CASA representatives, schools, Tyson Library and more.
Paula Goodpaster, coordinator for the Ripley County Local Coordinating
Council encouraged the community to be involved. The group is
addressing the increasing misuse of prescription drugs in the
county with specific goals and objectives outlined.
Marshal Hegge is a member and executive officer of the group.
For more information call 812-212-8406.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured above Tara Rogers with SIEOC
Head Start, checks out paraphernalia shown by Osgood Deputy
Marshal Josh Cady at a Youth Worker's Cafe, sponsored by
the Ripley County Local Coordinating Council held November
24 at the Ripley County Department of Children Services,