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Default 06-03-2007, 03:17 AM

Prescription abuse creating 'scariest time' in region

In March, a 15-year-old girl sat in her Portage High School classroom, crushed up a Flexeril pill, and snorted it off of her desk.

Taken normally and prescribed, the muscle relaxer can cause dizziness and drowsiness. She had gotten the pill from a younger girl's prescription.

Although extreme, it's an example of what some say is increasing prescription drug abuse among Porter County youths.
That same day, school resource officer Cpl. Troy Williams arrested another four girls -- three at Willowcreek Middle School -- when they were discovered passing around ibuprofen, claiming it was Ritalin.

"This is the scariest time I've ever seen in my life," said Carmen Arlt, director of chemical dependency and addiction at Porter-Starke Services. "This is probably the worst I've seen it in Northwest Indiana," she said, noting her hike in seventh- and eighth-grade patients.

A recent federal report listed Indiana as fifth-highest in people age 12 or older using prescriptions nonmedically in the last year.

Local school counselors concede incidents involving prescriptions are rarer than those of alcohol or marijuana. But the pills are only increasing, and prevention is a particular challenge.

In a recent study from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, more than 60 percent of teen prescription abusers said they used them because they easily got them from parents or friends.

At the emergency room at Porter hospital, more young people are checking in, feigning pain for medicine, Dr. Samara Kester said this winter. Kester, medical director for the hospital's emergency departments, calls it a "huge" problem, without an easy solution.

"We can't say, 'Oh, you don't have pain," she said. "People know a doctor is there to help you feel better. So they know if they act like they're in terrible pain, we're going to do something about it."

But if they can't get help from local physicians, countless online pharmacies make illegal prescriptions a mouse click away.

And once they're obtained, the drugs are easy to hide.

Pills often are small and undetectable, which makes Williams rely heavily on alert faculty and students reporting misuse.

About 20 percent of his arrests this year in Portage schools have been for students possessing, using or selling illicit prescriptions.

In many ways, prescription abuse has a perception problem; many parents and children don't think they're as "bad" as seemingly harder drugs, like cocaine.

"They think it's harmless, they think it's the lesser of two evils," said Sarah Bernard, adolescent chemical dependency therapist at Porter-Starke. "People can rationalize, justify and minimize that more."

In the Partnership study, only 58 percent of parents believed there's a great risk in taking cold or cough medicine to get high. About half of teens saw it as a risk, a drop from the previous year.

"There's just a general lack of understanding, even of your own medicine cabinet," said Sgt. Steve Jackson, resource officer for the Valparaiso Community Schools. He said he's come across more "Skittles" and "Triple C," or dextromethorphan, found in products like cough syrup or Coricidin HBP.

"I think it's a matter of (students) not taking it as serious, as they would for heroin. There's a mentality that 'it's OK. It's medicine, it's not that bad."

"Yeah, for somebody it was medicine, and it may not be a street drug," Jackson said. "But when you take it illegally, it's become a street drug.

Abuse of pain relievers or over-the-counter meds can have the same devastating effects on a person's body, Arlt said. Withdrawal pains, diarrhea, and vomiting are just as bad for a Vicodin addict as one on heroin, she said.

Another disturbing trend, officials say, is the bigger role prescriptions are playing as potentially deadly mixes.

Arlt said she's seeing more "cheese," a lethal mix of heroin and diphenhydramine -- an antihistamine found in medicines like Benadryl -- that has spread through Dallas schools and killed teens there.

Fentanyl-laced heroin already has killed residents in Porter County and throughout the region.

"People are keeping it a lot more quiet these days," Arlt said. "It's really worse than you can possibly imagine."
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Default 06-03-2007, 03:29 AM

My God! That is scary.

But seriously, I remember when I snorted 3 Flexeril. Except not at school. And I fell asleep on my face 15 minutes later.

Can you trust your god enough to put your mp3 player on shuffle?
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Default 06-03-2007, 02:00 PM

Originally posted by Scynne@Jun 3 2007, 02:29 AM
My God! That is scary.
Seriously...diph and heroin

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Default 06-03-2007, 05:20 PM

Lol, Diph and Heroin, Vicodin addict, and it becomes a street drug.

I guess this is a bigger problem in the midwest and east coast than in cali.

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Default 06-03-2007, 08:56 PM

Because the kids are bored and can't get cali's awesome bud.

"In the Partnership study, only 58 percent of parents believed there's a great risk in taking cold or cough medicine to get high. About half of teens saw it as a risk, a drop from the previous year."

Wow 42% of them are either informed or took there kids word for it.
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