Because prescription drug abuse among kids and teens in the Garden State remains a huge problem, Ocean County is looking at possible prevention methods - one of which is a new online survey.

(Flickr Photo: Charles Williams)

The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) in collaboration with the DART Coalition of Ocean County, Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention, has launched their Prescription Use Survey.

Last year, they conducted one and had 375 respondents from the 55 and older population give them a great baseline of data on prescription drug use. The data that was compiled showed that prescription drug misuse is a problem as well as abuse.

Could you imagine older residents taking additional pills for something, thinking a higher dose would make them feel better faster? It happened on several occasions.

According to Spokesperson Leslie Terjesen, they continue to collect the data

"So we can use it to help shape new programs and services for our residents."

Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, said that Ocean County has seen an increase in use of heroin and other opiates which has been the primary reason for admission into substance abuse facilities.

One of the reasons the focus is on prescription drugs is because numerous reports show that youth begin their drug use with prescription drugs; some innocently prescribed, which can easily cause someone to become addicted. The DART Regional Coalition found through high school and college surveys that youth report getting their prescription drugs from their own home or their grandparent's home.

"We hope that we can take the data and initiate programs that are community specific to reduce the availability of prescription drugs, educate youth and family about this epidemic, and make significant changes to improve the community overall," Regenye added.

"Additionally, we are looking to promote prescription drop-off boxes in the community and educate people that throwing prescriptions in the toilet and into our water system is a larger public health issue."

The survey can be accessed through the Ocean County Health Department or directly online.