Prescription drug abuse has climbed over the past five years in the San Diego region, according to a report the county released on Monday.
Prescription drugs played a role in 268 deaths last year in San Diego County compared to 220 in 2008, a 22 percent increase, according to the 2013 Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card. A total of 1,221 people have died due to problems with prescription drugs during those five years.
Emergency room visits involving prescription drugs jumped 61 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to the report. The percentage of arrested juveniles who reported abusing medications climbed from 25 percent to 40 percent, the study found.
“It is very troubling to know so many young people and adults are abusing prescription drugs,” Supervisor Dave Roberts said. “The problem is that prescription drugs are easy to get. They are readily available in home medicine cabinets.’’
Sheriff Bill Gore said the statistics on juvenile arrestees are “very troubling.”
Other findings in the report card:
•Students who reported misusing prescription drugs climbed from 17 percent in 2007 to 19.6 percent last year;
•The number of adults who checked into treatment centers for medication abuse went from 3.9 percent to 4.7 percent in five years;
•The number of arrested adults who reported misusing prescription drugs increased from 36 percent to 38 percent;
•Prosecutors filed 117 prescription fraud cases last year, five more than 2008;
•1,311 other cases involving prescription drugs were filed last year, an 84 percent increase;
•The number of pharmacies robbed or burglarized dropped from nine in 2008 to eight in 2012; and
•26,609 pounds of prescription medications were brought to disposal sites last year, compared to 10,846 pounds in 2010 when the collection program began.
County officials said people with concerns about prescription drug abuse may call the Prescription Drug Hotline at 877-662-6384.
—City News Service