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Prescription drug and alcohol abuse affects Kemper County

Prescription drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent in Kemper County, according to Weems Community Mental Health Center.

“Kemper county is the third highest out of the 82 counties in prescription drug abuse, and it’s the fourth highest in underage drinking,” said Prevention Coordinator Catherine Joyner.

The data comes from state epidemiological reports, and the abuse is seen mostly among high schoolers and college students.

But perhaps an even more shocking statistic is that up to 70 percent of prescription drug abusers obtain these prescription drugs from relatives and friends.

“Most of it is willingly given. About 50 percent of people give their children, if they’re in pain, a pain pill, thinking they’re trying to help them, but in the end, it’s actually hurting them,” said Joyner.

Allowing underage drinking at home can be just as damaging.

“A lot of times parents will even give their children some alcohol, because they think if they try it at home maybe it’ll be safer,” said Joyner.

Prescription drug and alcohol abuse, however, isn’t only seen among youth. It’s also seen in older adults, especially geriatrics. But regardless of age, Joyner said prescription drug or alcohol abuse of any sort can cause more severe problems, like alcoholism and drug addiction.

“A lot of times this is what leads up to heroin. Heroin has the same roots, and actually heroin has become cheaper than these prescription drugs. Prescription drugs have gotten very high prices on the streets. They’ll get to where they’re addicted and they’re not working for them at that dose anymore. So, they’ll have to take something stronger, and heroin is a lot stronger and a lot cheaper.”

We’ll continue this series tomorrow—Weems Community Mental Health Center explains what it’s doing to target the problem.


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