Shasta County struggles to deal with opioid addiction, abuse

May 11, 2016 1:19 PM by News Staff

In Shasta County, there are more deaths from opiate prescriptions than heroin and cocaine combined. Community leaders are trying to raise awareness about this prescription drug abuse problem.

Drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and Tylenol #3 can be effective pain killers for people with cancer or other terminal illnesses, but more and more people are abusing them. One doctor in Redding is trying to make a difference.

The Shasta County board of supervisors heard the news from county health officer Dr. Andrew Deckert and it wasn't good.

There's an epidemic in the county when it comes to the abuse of prescription opiates and Tuesday was about county leaders facing the facts about this life and death issue, and what to do about it.

"Why I want to raise awareness is because it's causing damage to our community,” Deckert said. “We've had in the country a quadrupling of over dose deaths from prescription opiates and heroine starting to rise also."

Shasta County has double the state rates in opiate prescriptions and had 21 opiate poisoning deaths in 2014. Deckert says this is a serious problem for the whole north state.

"The whole north state not just Shasta County has the highest rate of these drug poisoning deaths so that's a serious issue," Deckert said.

Two-thirds of prescription drugs are accessed from family and friends, so Deckert strongly advises to clean out your medicine cabinet before it gets raided.

Anonymous prescription drop off kiosks are located in front of the Redding Police Station and assures that your drugs will be safely disposed of so they don't harm the environment or get into the wrong hands.

Deckert said he wants to teach the public that prescription drugs are not only deadly, but are costing the community dearly

“Prescription opiates often lead to addiction,” Deckert said. “Addiction becomes a community problem because the cost to treat addiction. To pay for treatment programs, to get people off of them and who pays for that? Most of that's tax payer money for Medicare and medical."

I spoke to supervisor Les Baugh today who said he was alarmed by the statistics of opiate abuse and said it should be elevated to the highest priority.


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