The metro-east’s drug problems got shockingly worse in 2014.
Madison County’s number of drug overdose fatalities nearly doubled to 101, compared with 54 the previous year. St. Clair County had 47 deaths in 2014 compared with 32 the previous year. Calling this an epidemic seems like a huge understatement.
A lot of people will be surprised to learn that the biggest problem isn’t illegal street drugs like heroin. It’s prescription drugs; quite literally pain killers. Madison County had 41 of such deaths in 2014 - almost as many as the total overdose deaths in 2013.
Individuals can help by making sure that narcotics they have in their homes are locked up and controlled. People often forget what’s on the shelf, making it all too easy for family members to swipe those drugs without detection.
Law enforcement authorities also need to ratchet up their efforts to identify doctors who are irresponsibly prescribing these drugs. Madison County Coroner Steve Noon said he has been working with the police to identify some clinics that are pill mills. Good; identify them and get them shut down. That would be a major step toward getting this deadly trend reversed.