GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Tuesday, 24 Hour News 8 learned that a Plainwell teen is facing charges for giving another teen the methadone that he fatally overdosed on.
Plainwell investigators are investigating the case of 18-year-old Tyler Warner, who died in November 2011 of an overdose on methadone and Xanax.
Tyler Drewyor, 17, now faces charges of delivering the controlled substances that Warner overdosed on. Police still expect to make one more arrest in connection with the death.
The Plainwell case revealed a network of prescription abuse. More than a dozen kids have been to be found using prescription drugs recreationally.
Police interviewed Dr. Richard Tooker, a retired medical examiner and expert on the prescription drug problem, during their investigation.
Tooker also spoke to the students at Plainwell High School about prescription drug abuse after Warner's death.
He says the November death of Warner mirrors issues across the country.
"It's a local phenomenon, but it's a nationwide problem," he said.
Tooker pointed a finger at doctors for over-prescribing opiates.
"Pills are being prescribed in such large volumes that they're getting out on the street."
The FDA reports pharmacies filled about 50% more opiate prescriptions in 2009 than in 2000.
Tooker said the over-prescription pushes more drugs in homes and risks them landing in the hands of kids.
"There's a lot of these medicines out in our communities," Tooker said. "They're in medicine cabinets, in pill bottles, and in places where kids can get them."
He said students usually get the drugs from friends, neighbors or family -- whether those people know it or not.
For Tooker, this issue is a mission. He talks to doctors at workshops around West Michigan.
"I'm working with doctors to make sure they are more responsible prescribers," said Tooker.
But doctors are only part of the problem, he said. Another is that patients think they can safely get high from prescription pills.
"A lot of people think or assume that because these are medicines prescribed by doctors, that they are safe, and nothing could be farther from the truth," Tooker said. "They are controlled prescription medicines because they are not safe unless they are prescribed for a certain person, for a certain problem, and for certain amounts."
Tooker clarified he's not for withholding medication for those in need. But he said doctors need to limit the amount they prescribe, so it can't get into the wrong hands.
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