"Right now, in the Tri-State Area, this is the monster that is killing people. This is the #1 cause of death in young people today." Kerrie Vanover is talking about prescription drug overdose. She lost her baby brother to this killer last year. "He was a young, vibrant young man, loved by everybody." Vanover says her brother's death has taken a toll on her. "There's anger, there's remorse, there's guilt." It's also affected the rest of her surviving family. "I had a nervous breakdown, my family's had a nervous breakdown. How do you explain that to my kids?" Vanover is angry about prescription drug abuse and wants to do something about it. "It's not right, you're ruining families."
She's not the only one upset. Vanderburgh County Coroner, Annie Groves' New Year's resolution is to work on cutting down prescription abuse. "I don't think people realize how addicting Hydrocodone is."
Vanover says the problem goes deeper than just an addiction. "They're in pain, they don't know how to handle it, and not just physical pain but mental pain."
Groves agrees that mental illness needs to be addressed., "Probably the biggest misunderstood disease that there is. People see it as a weakness, and it's not." Groves is hoping to bring the local medical community and pharmacies together to work on a program that would pinpoint people who are abusing pills.
Vanover says change can't come fast enough, "When you get a phone call at 5 a.m. saying, 'he's gone,' nobody should have to go through that."
Groves says Hydrocodone and Xanax are the two drugs mostly commonly seen in overdoses. She says overdoses happen most when people build up their tolerance to pills to an unsafe level.