SANDESTIN-- Florida has been called an epicenter for prescription pill abuse. On Saturday the Emerald Coast Medical Association held their annual Winter Beach Retreat, where they educated local doctors on how they can resolve the problem.
Prescription pill abuse has skyrocketed across the United States.
"We are in the middle of the worst drug epidemic we've ever had in the United States by any measure anybody uses and I don't know who to arrest anymore," said former head of the NYC DEA, Bob Stutman.
Bob Stutman has dealt with prescription pill addiction from the front lines. He worked as a DEA agent for 25 years.
"Of the 40,000 roughly people that died of drug overdose last year, by the way more than died from automobile accidents for the first time in history," said Stutman.
Illegal street drugs are no longer the problem in America, it's the legal prescription drugs that are claiming the lives of thousands of people every year.
"The majority of people who die from drug overdose never see a drug trafficker they get their drugs from friends, family, relatives, medicine chests and those drugs are almost always put there not by crooked doctors, but by well meaning physicians who do not understand the paradigm shift," said Stutman.
Back in 2010 prescription drugs were responsible for the deaths of nearly 7 Floridians a day. Since then, that number has declined thanks to the successful launch of the state's prescription drug monitoring program…
"We don't have the buses coming down from Kentucky and Tennessee as much so yeah its getting slightly better in Florida."
But local doctors are still seeing an alarming amount of patients who are addicted to prescription medication.
"I started out doing occupational medicine and ended up doing drug rehab because I was getting patients that were addicted on medications," said Dr. Ata Ulhaq.
Dr. Ulhaq says doctors need more meetings like this one, so they can be educated on the issue.
"I see more usage in Florida since I moved here about a year and a half ago although the use is everywhere throughout the country, but there is a lot in Florida. "
Stutman says the most important thing doctors can do to combat the problem is for doctors to make sure their patients are taking the medication they're prescribing.
"I ask every doctor in here to do one thing. Be able to look in the mirror tomorrow and say I am trying my best."
Some local doctors are looking to set up a program to educate fellow physicians on how to appropriately prescribe these medications.