Monday, September 20th, 2021

In this day and age there is a “pill for every ill”

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2016

Article submitted by Kelly Sickafoose

In this age of a “pill for every ill,” the potential for prescription drug abuse and addiction is ever-present. For medical providers, there is a fine line between ensuring access to needed medications and preventing drug misuse/abuse.

Among teens and young adults, next to marijuana, prescription drugs are abused the most. Many overdoses are due to prescription drugs - Prince, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, and Marilyn Monroe are examples.  Prescription drug abuse is: taking a medication that was not prescribed to you; purposefully taking the wrong dosage of a medicine that was prescribed to you; or taking a prescribed medicine for something other than its intended purpose.

Teens turn to prescription drugs for several reasons: Many teens do not see a great risk in trying prescription pain relievers since they are prescribed by a doctor. They believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs and not addictive. Prescription drugs are much more difficult to detect than street drugs. Prescription drugs are much easier to obtain than street drugs. Seventy percent of teens get prescription drugs from family or friends. Prescription drug abuse can lead to heroin use. Those addicted to prescription medication may run out of pills, or the pills are expensive, so they look for alternatives. Heroin is a readily available, relatively inexpensive, fast-acting opiate. Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the Asian poppy plant. It is usually a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance. The differences in color are due to impurities left from the manufacturing process or the presence of additives. It is sometimes cut with other substances such as sugar, powdered milk, cornstarch, or even poisons like strychnine.

Users feel the effect of heroin within seconds of taking it. Heroin is converted into morphine when it enters the brain, which disrupts normal brain activity and creates intense feelings of pleasure. Heroin causes severe physical and psychological symptoms six to eight hours after the last dosage. Painful withdrawal gets worse as time passes.

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that people who use pain pills non-medically are 19 times more likely to start using heroin.

A story illustrates this point. A 24 year old mother of two children was prescribed pain medication after surgery in 2008. From 2008 through 2010, she was crushing prescription pills to get high. (<$1/mg per 60 mg pill= $60 per pill).  In 2010, she started snorting heroin (1 cap (.05 gm) = $15-20, habit of two caps each day). In 2013, she began injecting heroin and did so for a few years prior to her arrest for heroin possession.

What can you do? Be a part of the solution. Start by locking up your medications and properly disposing of them when they’re no longer needed. Also, talk with your teen or young adult. By helping prevent prescription drug abuse, you’re potentially saving lives.

For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts - LACE.