Prescription Drugs "Newest Monster" in Indian Country
July 21, 2009
Prescription drug misuse is becoming more common in Indian Country, and some health care providers are linking it to increases in hepatitis C infections.
In prescription drugs alone, hepatitis C patients cost the Indian Health Service hospital in Browning $15,000 a year on average, compared with about $300 for the average patient, said its director Jim Kennedy.
"Hundreds of people are out there seeking help," said Skunkcap. "We see a lot of pregnant women who are all on pills, snorting them or shooting them up, and a lot of their babies are born in withdrawal."
"People here are living on fixed incomes, and in law enforcement I'm seeing people selling their pills to pay the bills, to pay their light bills and to put gas in their cars," said Leatha Kipp of the tribal justice department.
Montana has recorded 300 deaths from prescription drug misuse in each of the past eight years, said Mark Long, narcotics bureau chief for the state Justice Department. That is more than homicides and traffic deaths combined, "and I suspect the true number is much higher than 300," Long said.
Future community forums are planned on the problem and possible solutions.
Great Falls Tribune
07.10.2009; Eric Newhouse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.