Ga. launches statewide prescription drug alert

ATLANTA -- Georgians could soon see campaign ads in this political season that have nothing to do with candidates but instead are about drugs.

A drug-abuse organization announced Wednesday it has launched a campaign funded by the state to alert consumers to the dangers of misusing prescription drugs and to remind medical professionals to access an electronic system designed to monitor abuses. Newspaper ads, posters, postcards and messages on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter seek to carry the message “Prescription Drug Abuse -- It’s Not What the Doctor Ordered.”

Prescription drugs are among the worst killers because they can be obtained legally, according to Dr. Gregg Raduka, program director for the campaign. While there are legal outlets for them when prescribed, using medication prescribed for someone else is against the law.

The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, an affiliate of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, is using a grant from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. It’s also coordinating with medical associations and national drug-abuse organizations.

Georgia provided law enforcement a new tool last year with enactment of legislation creating a statewide database of prescriptions that doctors and druggists can consult. That way they can tell if a patient they don’t know is getting multiple pain-relief prescriptions from different physicians just to obtain drugs. Police are using the database also to close down “pill mills” in which doctors use little care in dispensing powerful painkiller prescriptions.

Another source of prescription abuse is leftover medication. The campaign seeks to get patients to dispose of medicines properly by either dropping them off at select law-enforcement headquarters, flushing them down the toilet or mixing uncrushed pills with distasteful materials like kitty litter and tossing them into the trash.

The campaign’s website www.stoprxabuseinga.org lists which medications can be safely flushed without contributing to water pollution.

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