‘We’re Shutting Down Pill Mills in Pinellas County’ | Community Spirit
Since April 1, motorists and pedestrians in Pinellas County have been met with an anti-prescription drug abuse message on billboards in the county.
“We’re shutting down Pill Mills in Pinellas County” is the message on the billboards, and it represents the unified mission statement from the coalition groups involved in the initiative.
For the calendar year 2010, Pinellas led all counties in the state of Florida with 249 accidental overdose deaths from prescription drugs.
During 2010 and 2011, government agencies, law enforcement organizations, mental health and substance abuse prevention program providers and community partners joined together in undertaking aggressive initiatives aimed at reducing the number of deaths associated with prescription drug abuse.
Although a final report is not yet available for 2011, early indications report a reduction in the number of prescription drug overdose deaths. It has been a united fight, with many agencies in Pinellas County working together.
“Pinellas County’s high-prescriber ordinance is used to regulate facilities and identify doctors who prescribe large quantities of prescription narcotics,” said Paul Melton, an investigator with the Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services. “The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office identifies and investigates doctor shopping and other prescription drug crimes and the Department of Health investigates doctors and clinics where prescribing violations and standards of care issues might occur. These are examples of how different agencies have come together as a united front to battle this problem.”
Melton also recognizes significant contributions made by community partners.
“The key to reaching addicted individuals comes long before they get involved in the criminal justice system,” he said. “Organizations like NOPE, Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education, and LiveFree! work tirelessly to educate our young about the dangers of drug addiction and empower them to hold each other accountable and get help if needed.”
Other community partners, such as Operation PAR, are instrumental in providing substance abuse counseling for those already caught up in the cycle.
The kickoff to the campaign was on April 1, when the first billboard was erected at 1945 Sunset Point Road in Clearwater, between Hercules and Keene Road on the south side. The second is located on Gandy Boulevard just east of San Martin Boulevard. Several smaller boards will be put up in the coming weeks, with more planned for the future.
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