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Drug Free Coalition tackling overdoses of prescription medications
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Preventing prescription drug abuse

• Take medications only as prescribed

• Never share medications

• Store medications safely away from children and adolescents

• Dispose of medications properly in drop-off locations

Source: Drug Free Coalition of Hall County

A presentation by the Drug Free Coalition of Hall County at the Hall County Schools District Office on Thursday night in Gainesville focused on preventing overdoses of prescription drugs.

Two members of the coalition, Dallas Gay and Dr. P. Tennent Slack, spoke at the presentation open to the community.

Slack’s presentation, “The Prescription Drug Overdose Epidemic — A Question of Balance,” described facts about prescription drug overdoses and their prevalence in the United States.

Gay told about his grandson, Jeffrey Gay, who died due to an overdose at the age of 21 in 2012.

He also presented four steps to prevent prescription drug abuse. He said it is best to take the medications only as prescribed, never share them, store them safely away from children and adolescents, and dispose of them properly in drop-off locations.

Gay became involved with the coalition after watching his grandson’s continued struggle with drug addiction.

“We started to get involved with the coalition in 2010, when we tried to put together a community program,” Gay said. “We were trying to invent it from scratch.”

Gay said he has spoken at only three presentations so far, and it has been difficult each time to tell his grandson’s story.

“I’m struggling with it, but it’ll come together,” Gay said. He also said people need to get educated and get involved to help stop the epidemic of overdose deaths.

“We need people who are willing to go do these presentations at various groups, any group, and that’s the way you reach the public,” Gay said.

Slack, the event’s initial speaker, described the increase in prescription drug abuse and deaths due to accidental overdose involving opioids.

The coalition is hoping to take legislation to the state level to prevent overprescription of opioids, which account for about 75 percent of deaths because of drug overdose, according to Slack.

The goal of the coalition is to educate others, especially doctors and medical professionals, about the rise in overprescription of opioids and other addictive prescription drugs.

“I’m hoping to be part of a grass-roots effort to educate the public, and ultimately to educate prescribers,” Slack said. “Both are necessary, and both need educating.”

He said they are focusing on gaining support in Hall County and making a difference locally before advancing to the state level. He also said the biggest issue the coalition is facing is funding.

“I think the momentum is growing,” Dr. Slack said. “We haven’t reached critical mass yet.”

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