After years fighting Pasco County's prescription pill problem, Sgt. Bill Davis said a pill database put in place by state lawmakers in 2011 has finally helped turn the tide.
"So many other states had this, and we dropped the ball,” said Davis, who thinks the state should have created the database sooner. “We dropped the ball for years.”
The abuse and illegal sale of prescriptions cause a huge percentage of crime in Pasco.
But sheriff’s officials said the database has curbed “doctor shopping,” and the pill mills are now all but wiped out.
New statistics released by the medical examiner's office are showing real success. Pasco's prescription pill deaths have dropped from a high of 142 in 2010 to 63 last year.
Chrissie Parris with the Pasco County Alliance for Substance Abuse said extra funding helped with their mission.
"We really focused on education, awareness and changing some of the norms around prescription pills," Parris said.
But authorities said solving one problem brings new challenges. Drug abusers are turning from Oxycodone to another call Dilaudid.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said other illegal drugs haven't gone away.
"We've been dealing with Spice. We've seen a rise in cocaine. Meth is coming back," he said.
Even with a decline, Pasco is among the counties with the largest number of prescription pill overdoses.
That's why the Sheriff's Office and community partners said they won't let up on the battle.
The Sheriff’s Office has scheduled a pill drop-off April 26 so residents can safely dispose of their unwanted or expired prescriptions.
Residents can drop the pills off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:
Gulf View Square Mall
9409 U.S. 19
Crew Lake Park
1679 Crews Lake Drive
The Shoppes at Wiregrass
28211 Paseo Drive
Wesley Chapel (parking garage)
For more information, contact Chrissie Parris at 727-597-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.