Thang arrest sparks debate about Knox Co. prescription abuse

Provided PhotoPek Thang is charged with two counts of dealing a schedule 2 controlled substance to two juveniles.
Provided PhotoPek Thang is charged with two counts of dealing a schedule 2 controlled substance to two juveniles.

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The debate over prescription pill abuse in Knox County youth came to a climax Thursday following charges filed against a man accused of giving an Edwardsport teenager lortabs.

On Friday, drug abuse experts spoke to News 10 about the problem’s growing popularity and measures which could be taken to help get teenagers treatment.

Peter Haskins, the Director of Life After Meth, a 501(c)(3) agency aimed at aiding in the recovery and rehabilitation of methamphetamine addicts explained the process in which a prescription pill abuser goes through while taking the drugs.

“It’s just really, really very, very dangerous, and it’s getting worse,” said Haskins.

Haskins stated the majority of his work dealt in assisting recovering meth users, but shared insight with News 10 about prescription pill abuse.

The prescription pill epidemic in Knox County made its way into the spotlight when Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Hal Johnston filed charges against Van Pek Thang, 20 of Vincennes, on Thursday. Thang is charged with two counts of dealing in a schedule two substance, which is a class ‘A’ felony.

Officials claim Thang’s actions led to the death of 15-year-old Emily Sanchez, of Edwardsport.

Sanchez died after authorities say Thang provided her with prescription pills. An autopsy revealed Sanchez had several active chemical properties in her system at the time of her death, including morphine and hydrocodone.

“Initial signs with any addiction is just a pre-occupation with obtaining the drug itself, just a constant sense you have to have the drug, you have to have enough,” said Haskins. “Many times the person will not even be able to go to sleep, will not even be able to get out bed without taking 10 or 15 of these, lortabs especially.”

The Knox County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s office made a statement in their meeting; deputies will make an increased effort to crack down on prescription pill abuse and execute the full strength of the law.

“To build a criminal case against that, law enforcement has be proactive and reactive,” said Sheriff Mike Morris.

“If you are still alive and you are addicted there are always an opportunity for you to get into recovery and stop the madness,” said Haskins.

More information can be found on helping teens with addiction, here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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