“One-third of teens believe there’s ‘nothing wrong’ with using prescription medicines without a prescription once in a while,” according to the 2008 report, “Prescription for Danger” from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Ibid.). From 2005 to 2006 Utah was fourth in the nation for non-medical use of pain relievers.
These facts should encourage parents to take time at the dinner table to open up this subject. So often kids assume a bad guy is going to come up and encourage them to buy heroin, according to Richard Gale, a defense attorney. It’s easy to say, “No.” But approach a kid by a friend with a pill a doctor has prescribed that looks kind of like Tylenol, and kids don’t equate it with drug addiction (Ibid.).
This article pointed out that the logic is that “the pill isn’t a ‘street drug.’ It’s cleaner.” “Once won’t hurt.” “This is legal to use. After all it’s a prescription.” Some kids just raid their parent’s unlocked medicine cabinets.
I have a friend who got hooked on prescription drugs when he was 16 after having knee surgery. Like some people, he became instantly addicted. He is in his 50s now, has been in and out of jail a number of times, is divorced and still struggling to stay off prescription drugs. Kids need to know how quickly this can happen.
My son who is a doctor told me that one day in his medical training they had the opportunity to meet an entire panel of well-established doctors. The resident doctors were impressed with their credentials. Then they found that every one was currently being prosecuted for drug abuse. They asked questions and were impressed with the ease at which addiction comes.
Lt. Phil Murphy, director of the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force said that from July to September 2008, officers from that task force pulled 2,361 pills off Utah County streets. “And those were only a few big dealers, not the everyday users, Murphy said” (Ibid.). “We’re really in an epidemic. . . . Don’t tell me about legalizing marijuana and meth. We can’t even deal with the problem that’s legal here” (Ibid.).
“Oxycodone, a highly addictive pain reliever synthesized from natural opium sources, was developed in 1916 in Germany as an alternative to morphine or codeine,” said Dr. Glen Hanson, a professor at the University of Utah’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and director of the Utah Addiction Center. OxyaContin has a slow-release function for pain relief over several hours. Percodan is oxycodone with aspirin, and Percocet is oxycodone mixed with acetaminophen. “The abuse starts when addicts crush the pills to destroy the time-release capabilities and snort the powder for an instant high. A crushed oxcodone-based pill mirrors a heroin high and creates an equally powerful addiction,” Hanson said (Ibid.). If a teen can’t get the pill, he often readily goes to heroin, a cheaper alternative
Doctors and dentists at times are pushed to write prescriptions that aren’t needed. Sometimes the prescription runs out but the desire to take it remains.
Dr. Don Fairbanks said that “doctors are a real control point. . . . Rather than getting angry with a patient who tries to siphon medication for a blossoming addiction, doctors need to focus on the underlying problem” (Ibid.). Some pharmacists try to intervene if they sense there is a problem.
Education on the home front is a strong deterrent for this problem. Youth need to seek the natural high that results from achieving and avoid the artificial one from medication.