Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge

September 22, 2011

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-2906

District Attorney Vance And White House Drug Policy Director Kerlikowske Host Panel Discussion In Washington Heights On Drug Abuse Prevention Rates Of Death Declining In NYC In All Major Drug Categories Except Prescription Drugs DA’s Office To Partner

MANHATTAN, NY. - Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske led a panel discussion on combating drug abuse in New York City neighborhoods. Local community leaders, law enforcement officials, and health services organizations joined District Attorney Vance and Director Kerlikowske at the Armory Track & Field Foundation in Washington Heights to discuss, among other issues, the significant rise of prescription drug abuse, and illegal drug use among youth. Additionally, District Attorney Vance and Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Wilbert L. Plummer announced the third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Program to take place on October 29, 2011 at locations throughout Manhattan, in partnership with the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

“For decades New Yorkers have suffered from the violence and devastation that drug dealing and abuse has brought to our City,” District Attorney Vance said. “New York City has experienced a significant reduction in the destructive consequences illegal drugs have caused our communities, particularly in Washington Heights. This was made possible by the extraordinary work of law enforcement -- NYPD, the DEA, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor - community partnerships and effective education and prevention programs. But today we face a new and growing threat - prescription drug abuse. Together we will address this threat with an aggressive, widespread campaign that engages all of the resources in our communities. The health and safety of our children and our neighborhoods are at stake.”

National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said, “Washington Heights is a shining example of how law enforcement, public health officials, and community leaders can come together to transform drug-infested communities into places where families, youth, and community organizations can thrive. While we should celebrate this tremendous success we must keep our eyes on the ball. Prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest-growing drug problems in the country. Data show that 70 percent of the people who abuse prescription drugs get them from the medicine cabinets of friends or family members, which is why properly disposing of unwanted prescription drugs is more important than ever. I commend District Attorney Vance and Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Wilbert Plummer for their support for the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Program in Manhattan. Together we can ensure families are equipped with the knowledge and support systems to prevent prescription drug abuse.”

DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Wilbert L. Plummer said: “DEA started the National Pill Take Back Initiative nationwide in order to increase the awareness of the dangers of illegally abused prescription medications in a way that would also reduce the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse. By cleaning out our medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted and expired prescription medications we are reducing the availability of diverted drugs while keeping our communities environments safe.” Mr. Plummer also thanked the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and other state and local law enforcement partners for their assistance in the initiative.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York Bridget G. Brennan said: “Prescription drug abuse is a fast growing problem in Northern Manhattan, as it is across New York City and the nation. Our neighborhoods are all too familiar with the ravages of a drug epidemic. The problem we now face is different. These drugs are prescribed by doctors and obtained through legitimate pharmacies, as well as on the street. In many instances, when a prescription opioid habit becomes too expensive, the user turns to heroin. This is a problem that requires increased community awareness through public education, as well as physician education and increased efforts on the part of law enforcement.”

The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that recent data indicates that while overall drug use in America has fallen by roughly one-third over the past 30 years, there have been increases between 2008 and 2010. Specifically, there was a 43 percent increase in illicit drug use among Hispanic teen boys and a 42 percent increase among African American girls. These increases highlight the importance of community-driven drug prevention programs to equip youth with the information needed to make healthy decisions, and to remain drug free.

According to a preliminary report issued by the Center for Disease Control in 2010, more Americans were killed by drug abuse than by automobile (37,485 drug-induced deaths versus 36,284 motor vehicle accident deaths in 2009). One contributor noted by national drug policy experts is the rise in the abuse of prescription pain medication. More than half of the respondents to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health who reported using these medications recreationally said they obtained the drugs from friends or relatives, underscoring the need for close monitoring of these drugs.

The third National Prescription Drug Take-Back event spearheaded by the DEA and done in partnership with the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York City, will be held on October 29, 2011 at locations across the nation. The most recent take-back, on April 30, 2011, collected more than 376,593 (188 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,361 take-back sites across the country. For more information on the upcoming event, please visit www.dea.gov.

New York City Drug Statistics -

• More than one million people, or 16 percent of the City’s population, reported using illicit drugs or medications in the past year. Source: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• In 2008, 14 percent of youth in grades seven through twelve in New York City Public schools reported drug abuse. Source: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• Drug-related emergency department visits increased 40 percent between 2004 and 2009. Source: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• 624 people in New York City died from drug overdoses in 2009. Source: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• Overall abuse of prescription (which includes oxycodone and hydrocodone) in NYC has steadily increased between 2004 and 2008, however, the available data suggests that it has not surpassed cocaine and heroin use.

• Between 2005 and 2009, rates of accidental drug overdose deaths declined in NYC in all major drug categories except prescription pain medications and prescription (benzodiazepines). Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

• Deaths involving prescription opioids contributed to 25 percent of all drug-related deaths in 2009, compared to 16 percent in 2005. Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

• Admissions to crisis drug treatment programs for prescription opioids rose 80 percent in NYC between 2007 and 2010. Source: New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

National Drug (2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) -

• In 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were (past month) illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This estimate represents 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older. Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used nonmedically.

• The rate of current use of illicit drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 increased from 19.6 percent in 2008 to 21.2 percent in 2009 and 21.5 percent in 2010, driven largely by an increase in marijuana (from 16.5 percent in 2008 to 18.1 percent in 2009 and 18.5 percent in 2010).

• Among persons aged 12 or older in 2009-2010 who used pain relievers non-medically in the past 12 months, 55 percent got the drug they most recently used from a friend or relative for free. Another 17.3 percent reported they got the drug from one doctor. Only 4.4 percent got pain relievers from a drug dealer or other stranger, and 0.4 percent bought them on the Internet. Among those who reported getting the pain reliever from a friend or relative for free, 79.4 percent reported in a follow-up question that the friend or relative had obtained the drugs from just one doctor.

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