"Percocet. Vicodin. Oxycontin. Methadone is another big one," said WMC Attending Emergency Room Physician Doug Benkelman.
Prescription drugs. They're legal, but if they're abused they can be deadly.
"We probably see one death a month or one severe toxic ingestion per month around here due to narcotic pain medication ingestion," said Benkelman.
Physician Doug Benkelman says drugs are a daily battle in the Emergency Room at Winchester Medical Center.
"It's noticeably becoming more frequent," said Benkelman. "Again, a younger patient population is coming in with significant overdoses, and we're seeing a much broader gamete of patients coming in."
Every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental prescription drug overdose. Here locally, it's not just the prescription drugs, but the opium that's the problem.
"From my time in the task force 1994-2001, I saw two overdoses on the same person and that was it," said Frederick County Sheriff's Office Cpt. Al Sibert. "Two overdoses. One person in seven years, and now we're averaging between 20 and 30 a year. That is a huge increase in the last 11 years. A huge increase."
This year, the City of Winchester has responded to about 50 overdoses. Sibert says people are more likely to overdose on heroin than on prescription drugs.
"That hydrocodone that you take today is going to be the same that you take next month and the month after and the month after," said Sibert. "The heroin that you may use today may be a totally different strength than you use next week because there isn't quality control."
For both law enforcement officers and health care professionals, opium based drugs are a constant battle.
"Every few weeks, we'll get someone that needs to be on the ventilator, admitted to the ICU or comes in dead," said Benkelman. "The drug seeking behavior is a daily phenomenal and is some thing we battle 24/7 in here."
Benkelman says they don't treat chronic pain in the emergency department. They also have a prescription monitoring system to keep track of patients' prescription history. These are just two of the many measures they have in place to prevent patients from getting a hold of more medication than is needed.
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