A Prescription for Trouble

Marin County is near the top of many lists in California: healthiest, wealthiest and one more that doesn’t elicit bragging. We are number one in alcohol and overdose deaths among teens per capita. “For all the wonderful norms that promote health in Marin, we do have our shadow side,” says Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer. “I don’t know if we fully understand the reasons why our rates of substance use are so high,” he adds. “Some say it’s related to the stress of affluence and high education and expectations of performance.” Unfortunately, a recent sequence of events bolsters these claims. A public health advisory was issued in late October discussing the dangers of overdosing and just a few days later five Marin teens landed in the hospital after consuming an excess amount of cough syrup. This alarming trend has been deemed an epidemic; in response, a set of guidelines for prescribing painkillers was developed by the Marin Medical Society, RxSafe Marin Prescribers and Pharmacists Community, and the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services. marinhhs.org, rxsafemarin.org