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Task force looking at prescription drug abuse

A task force is working to reduce the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs.

That task force is working on a strategy to control prescription drugs – as well as potential legislation for the 2015 session.

Katie Cashman represents the North Dakota Medical Association. She says while it isn’t yet a big problem in North Dakota – abuse of pharmaceuticals is growing.

"We're seeing kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd grade kids coming to school with Mommy or Daddy's pills," said Cashman. "The kids think the pills are safe to take, and they think it's fun to take pills."

Also, Cashman says, people who have an open house when they try to sell their homes may have strangers going through their medicine cabinets.

"There was even an issue at someone's funeral," said Cashman. "Someone had died of cancer. A bunch of people came to an open house after the funeral. And all of the pain killers left over were taken from the home."

Cashman says the Medical Association believes this should be treated as more of a mental health or addiction problem, rather than a criminal issue.

"If I have my wisdom teeth taken out, and even though I will only need pills for a couple of days, and my doctor gives me more than enough pills, and then someone asks me for a couple of pills, and I say, 'Sure, why not,' now I'm a drug dealer," said Cashman.

The group has been meeting monthly since last June.

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