RX Epidemic Memorial Foundation collecting pill pottles for memorialWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Nick Batt, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
It’s legal. I got it from a doctor. So, what’s the harm? A lot, says Kyle Schalow, founder of The RX Epidemic Memorial Foundation.
In the U.S., 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. More than the number that abuse cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin combined. About 36,500 die each year from prescription drug overdoses. Every day 2,500 children abuse prescriptions for the first time. This silent epidemic killed 1,915 people in Ohio in 2012 alone, the last year for which statistics are available.
In 2007 unintentional drug poisoning became the leading cause of death in Ohio surpassing motor vehicle crashes for the first time. The trend has continued since then. From 2000-12, the death rate has increased 366 percent, primarily driven by prescription drug overdoses. Lucas County alone lost 88 residents in 2012 and 396 since 2000 to this epidemic. Fatal overdoses cost Ohioans $2 billion in medical expenses and lost work in 2012. Nonlethal overdoses cost another $39 billion.
The most common drugs linked to these statistics are opioids used for chronic pain. As the name suggests, these drugs come from opium just like heroin. These opiods often are a gateway drug that leads to heroin abuse as evidenced by the rising percentage of heroin as a share of total Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation drug tests for law enforcement from 33 percent in 2009 to 41 percent in 2013. Other drugs such as Adderall, which is used to treat ADD, are also commonly abused.
Kyle’s wife April became addicted to pain killers prescribed by her doctor. The addiction almost tore their family apart. Now she is three years clean. The Schalows told their story on Oprah’s “Lifeclass.” Their segment, titled “Family Secrets,” is available on YouTube.
As a result of their experience, they formed the foundation to have the first Friday in October recognized as National Drug Epidemic Awareness Day, to grow that day into an international observance and to build the Rx Epidemic Memorial consisting of 36,500 empty pill bottles representing the people who die each year. They are arranged to spell out Faith, Hope and Love.
“Faith equals courage, hope is a word of encouragement for the families that are picking up the pieces from the wreckage of this epidemic and it will take love to conquer it,” Schalow said.
The Memorial currently consists of about 8,000 empty bottles. Schalow said he hopes to have the completed memorial placed in the National Archives and eventually hopes the foundation will become an agency to assist individuals, their families and other groups to provide adequate support for those who seek recovery from prescription drug addiction.
By resolution, the Lucas County Commissioners have recognized May as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education Month and the first Friday in October as Prescription Drug Awareness Awareness and Education Day in Lucas County. Similar motions from the governor is expected soon, Schalow said. Many local fire departments and other agencies hold ‘Drug Take Back Day locally under the leadership of Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp.
The foundation has scheduled an inaugural ceremony and memorial service for noon to 3 p.m. May 2 at Community Homecoming Park, 7807 Angola Road, in Holland. Speakers include Commissioner Carol Contrada and Senator Edna Brown. Music will be provided by America’s Pride Toledo with Bill Geha. Set up will begin at 9 a.m. Anyone wishing to volunteer or learn more can contact Schalow at email@example.com or visit them on Facebook at Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education Day.
Tags: addiction, Bill Geha, chronic pain, cocaine, Commissioner Carol Contrada, Community Homecoming Park, hallucinogens, heroin, inhalants, Kyle Schalow, Lucas County, Lucas County Commissioners, National Drug Epidemic Awareness Day, Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education Day, opioids, opium, pain killers, Rx Epidemic Memorial Foundation, Senator Edna Brown, “Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education Month”, “Prescription Drug Awareness Awareness and Education Day”