CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

May 20, 2014

EDITORIAL: A state dying from drug use

Alabama coroners, with the power to order and log results of  toxicology reports, hold the key to important information for families and law enforcement officials.

Whether the toxicology reports are ordered is discretionary among coroners when a death occurs. When those tests are not ordered or entered into data bases, families and law enforcement agencies may be missing out on valuable information concerning drug-related deaths and trends with illegal or abused substances.

What coroners list on a death certificate can affect survivors’ life insurance or offer insight to authorities on emerging drug trends. Alabama needs a uniform standard for coroners to follow so that this information is regularly recorded.

One problem facing coroners in ordering toxicoloy reports is the backlog of cases with the state toxicology lab. The wait can go on for months.

Blount County Coroner John Mark Vaughn, who serves as chairman of the Alabama Coroner Association’s training commission, has been pushing for coroners across the state to adopt toxicology analysis as an indispensable tool for death investigations. The reasons behind Vaughn’s push are solid.

In Alabama, the prescription drug overdose rate was 13.1 deaths per 100,000 deaths in 2008, which is higher than Mississippi (10.6) and Georgia (9.5), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alabama also had among the highest number of prescription painkillers sold in the nation at 9.7 killograms per 10,000 people in 2010.

According to the national statistics, deaths from painkillers were above cocaine and heroin combined.

Alabama has a drug problem. The reports from law enforcement agencies and national agencies is pretty clear about that fact.

The coroners need a standard practice in place that requires toxicology reports. If the state is burdened under a backlog, simply outsource the job to private companies and help families and law enforcement understand and address the drug problem in Alabama.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • EDITORIAL: Primary shows maturity, will of voters

    With the local Republican Primary wrapped up, the outcome of three races may have seemed surprising to some observers.

    July 22, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: A break from the campaign rhetoric

    The collective sigh of relief felt throughout Cullman Wednesday morning signaled the end of another primary political season the previous night. As Wednesday’s Times headline told us, it was a clean sweep.

    July 21, 2014

  • Harris Coleman COMMENTARY: Billy Coleman, a true statesman

    King Solomon said, “Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored.” He also said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Billy Coleman, the past elected superintendent of Cullman County Schools, is the living example of these wise statements of truth.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • COMMENTARY: Twisty road back to Cullman

    The young journalist who was somewhat listening to the elder newspaperman on the other side of the desk didn’t have a clue.

    July 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Judge makes the right decision

    Many people are closely following the case of Jay Maynor, the man charged with murdering a man convicted of molesting his daughter 12 years ago.

    July 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Truth and independence

    Somewhere along a colonial road between Lexington and Concord, Americans found their courage and resolve to become independent.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Taking charge with a vote

    The Democratic and Republican primaries arrive Tuesday morning across the state, with many election officials and candidates fearing a low turnout could be in store for what otherwise should be cause for a great gathering of citizens.

    June 3, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A state dying from drug use

    Alabama coroners, with the power to order and log results of  toxicology reports, hold the key to important information for families and law enforcement officials.

    May 20, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Looking beyond the standard

    Cullman County schools superintendent Billy Coleman opened a wide door of opportunity when he supported a transition to an appointed executive to lead the local education system.

    May 20, 2014

  • Editorial: Meal money violates trust

    As various local political candidates dash toward the June 3 primary, a troublesome issue remains unattended on the table.

    May 11, 2014