Prescription meds may be misused by youth

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, February 25, 2004

By Staff
This is the sixth installment in a six-part series on drug abuse, provided by the Escambia County Schools Youth Empowerment Program.
Use of prescription pills is on the rise with our youth. Drugs like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Lortab are becoming increasingly popular among children from 11 to 18. According to a Reuters article from January 2002, Oxycontin killed more drug abusers in Florida than either heroin or cocaine in the first six months of 2001.
Oxycontin is a prescription painkiller which is often given to people with chronic pain or who are dying of cancer. It is similar to Morphine in its structure and effects on the body.
Vicodin and Lortab act in a similar way. The drugs can cause a drunken like state with nausea, drowsiness, impaired coordination, weakness and confusion.
These drugs lower the heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure of the user. By depressing the respiratory rate, the drugs can cause serious health problems to the user.
Youth obtain these substances by stealing them from elderly relatives, family and friends who were legally prescribed the drugs. Some of these youth in turn bring the pills to school or social events and sell them for up to $40 per pill.
There have been a couple of incidents this year of students taking pills from friends and ingesting them without even knowing what type the medication was. These students are eager to please their peers and have problems in their lives that they do not believe they can face without getting high.
Parents can help prevent the illegal use of prescription medications by their children by closely monitoring any medications kept at home and assisting elderly relatives to do the same. Medication that are no longer needed for the condition they were prescribed for should be carefully discarded.
Teaching children to only take prescription medications that are prescribed for them will also help in preventing abuse.
Many children mistakenly believe that it is safer to take prescription pills than it is to experiment with other street substances like cocaine.
Parents should talk to their children about the dangers of taking medications not prescribed for them.
For more information on drugs, a referral for drug abuse screening or testing or counseling intervention, please contact Sheri L. Cox, Youth Empowerment Coordinator, Escambia County Schools, 296-0633,

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