Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secreatry Gary Tennis said prescription drug abuse is so bad "it's a commonwealth epidemic."
Tennis told ABC 27 in Harrisburg 4.2 percent of Pennsylvanians are abusing prescription drugs. Some federal reports also indicate that Pennsylvania is among a group of states with some of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the county.
According to federal health reports, prescription drugs play a large role.
Tennis took his post at Drug and Alcohol Programs, a new department, last year after he was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett. The department's goal is to help Pennsylvanians struggling with addiction.
Reducing prescription drug abuse is near the top of the agency's to-do list.
Doing that, Tennis said, will require some help from the legislature. He hopes they will pass a new pill bill that would monitor those who "doc shop" to get prescription medication. Under the bill, health care professionals would be able to look up what drugs patients have received.
A statute like this is already in place, but Tennis hopes to increase doctor communication and monitoring.
Tennis admits that reducing the problem will take a multi-faceted approach. He says working with health care professionals is a big part of the solution, too.
"[We need] better physician training both in terms of prescribing practices and in terms of spotting addiction," Tennis told ABC 27.
While the problem is an epidemic in Pennsylvania, Tennis is optimistic that the he can help break the state's prescription pill addiction.
"This problem is unnecessary. With the right kind of response, we can really get this problem under control. We really can reduce prescription drug abuse. We know we can drive this problem down," Tennis told ABC 27.
To read more: http://www.abc27.com/story/21078409/prescription-pill-abuse-an-epidemic-in-pa
The problem in Mississippi goes beyond Meridian County. A recent report by a group of civil rights leaders found that in one Mississippi school district, 33 of every 1,000 children were arrested or referred to juvenile detention centers; that in another, such referrals included second and third graders; and that in yet another, only 4 percent of the law enforcement referrals were for felony-level behavior, the most often cited offense being “disorderly conduct.”
The problem goes beyond Mississippi. Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice said recently, "The vast majority of children being arrested in schools are not committing criminal acts."
Sixty-seven percent of the arrests last year were for misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct -- a catchall, attorneys say, that has been used when children refused to take a cell phone out of a pocket or yelled in class. Fewer than 5 percent faced weapons charges.
Most arrests, Walters suggests, stem from "bad behavior, not criminal behavior."
Pennsylvania experienced one of the most egregious school-to-prison pipelines when two Luzerne County judges were convicted of sending school-aged juveniles into residential placement, often without legal counsel, in exchange for bribes. The scandal became known as “kids for cash.”
Policymakers have taken notice. Last December, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights conducted, for the first time, a hearing on the school-to-prison pipeline.
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