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Default 08-25-2007, 05:53 AM

More adolescents using prescription drugs to get high

SALISBURY -- Teens across the country are gaining access to drugs just as addictive and abusive as cocaine, only they're often free and already in many homes.

One in five school-aged children across the United States has admitted to abusing a prescription pain medication or used prescription stimulants and tranquilizers to get high, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

As Delmarva schools prepare to start classes this week, there's a new type of farming lesson creeping into teen bookbags and weekend parties. Pharming, or pharm parties, bring teens together to mix and blend prescription drugs into sometimes hallucinogenic or mind-altering cocktails to get high.

The practice is growing nationally because teens have easy access to the drugs often in bathroom and medicine closets. A survey of teens also showed less ambivalence about their safety because of the positive perception that comes with legal prescribed medication. It's an addictive behavior, and national and local drug experts said they expect to see more as its influence extends out of urban drug centers and into rural territory.

"It's becoming a more serious problem," said Dr. Paula Rose, medical director of Occupational and Employee Health at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. "I think we're at the beginning here in this area."

Rose said she sees cocaine and marijuana as the Lower Shore's illegal drugs of choice, but kids and teens could start reaching for prescription medication such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Ritalin, Adderall, Percocet, Xanax and Tylox, or other medicines with the strong pain-reliever codeine.

Teens surveyed
Separate studies of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, National Institute on Drug Abuse and related groups confirm the number of adolescents using prescription drugs is growing.

As many as 4.5 million children reported abusing prescription drugs and 2.4 million attempted "robotripping," or abusing cough medicine to get high. The slang term stems from the popular Robitussin brand of cough suppressant.

"This study removes any doubt that intentional abuse of medications among teens is a real issue threatening the health and well-being of American families," Steve Pasierb, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership, said in a news statement. "We have a situation where a widespread and dangerous teen behavior has become normalized and has found its way into our homes."

The 2004 Maryland Adolescent Survey, the most recent information available, reported classic intoxicants such as beer and cigarettes remain the choice drug for two of every five teens, high school seniors reported. But even in 2004, illegal Ritalin use was acknowledged by 2 percent of high school seniors. The next survey is scheduled this fall.

"When I'm out with kids, I hear them talking about using this stuff. It's not my guess that it would go down," said Wicomico County Health Department Drug Prevention Coordinator Cindy Shifler.

Since the drugs are in the home, and not being sold on a dimly-lit street corner, access isn't a deterrent to use. The effects are harder to detect, too, so the abuse could be silent, Shifler said. College students around the region have also reported knowledge and use of pharming for the past four or five years. She said the techniques will inevitably reach high-schoolers.

"It is at the college level," she said. "Just from that piece of information, it will reach high school kids because they are looking up to college kids."

An undercover Wicomico Narcotics Task Force detective, who could not be identified, said WNTF is finding more criminals possessing several types of prescription pills, on top of other illegal narcotics. The detective said more undercover and patrol officers are hearing references to abusing pills which haven't been prescribed. Teens could also be stealing the pills and selling them to others for as much as $20 apiece.

"If you're prescribed 50 pills, and after a few days, only 30 are left, that's a problem," the detective said. "I think there is a problem. It's out there."

In the schools
To teach Wicomico County students about the dangers of using legal and illegal drugs, health and physical education curriculums include discussions about their effect on the body and behavior, said Allen Brown, assistant superintendent for student services. Teachers are also asked to monitor behavior and report students acting differently.

"We have not been able to determine that it's happening within the schools, although there is that possibility," Brown said. "We do know that in most cases, when things like this occur, especially when it starts out in larger metropolitan areas, it filters its way down to this community."

Brown said having Sheriff's Office deputies in all high and middle schools, except for Pittsville, observing student actions has added to the level of observation and diminished drug traffic.

Taking medications in Wicomico County schools, even over-the-counter medications, is prohibited unless administered by a nurse. If a student is caught with the medication for use, the medicine could be confiscated and he or she would have a talk with a school disciplinarian. The parents are also called, Brown said.

Laura Cooper, a James M. Bennett High School Senior, said she's heard of classmates doing Ritalin, but it's not widespread. The risks of using prescription drugs is discussed in health class.

"I just know through the grapevine. I know that people do that," Laura Cooper said.

Laura's mom, Debra Cooper, said she's concerned to hear this.

"All you can do is educate your child, and make them aware of what kids are doing and the risk they're taking or maybe taking," she said.

Most parents are probably naive about a county school drug problem, but based on the statistics, there has to be more in schools than reported, said Christopher Wilde, vice president of the Wicomico County Council of PTAs.

"Parents need to be aware that Salisbury may have been a sleepy town 25 years ago, but with the influx, it's changing," Wilde said. "People need to be aware of signs to look for in their own life if they suspect it's a problem."

Prescription drug abuse symptoms also aren't widespread in Worcester County schools either, but the problem is new and likely on the rise, said Shirleen Church, Safe and Drug Schools coordinator. She said the best antidote is parent and teacher involvement in the classroom and home. The school system may also consider training its Students Against Destructive Decisions members about the dangers of prescription drugs.

"We feel that students can be the greatest influence on their peers," Church said.

Anytime there is a widespread availability of a drug, there is a potential for abuse, said Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark. Many urban and suburban school districts already face a problem of near-epidemic proportions; however, the problem isn't as serious on the Lower Shore, he said. But he agrees with other officials that parent vigilance should be heightened and pill bottles monitored.

Possession of pills not prescribed can warrant fines and several years in prison depending on the schedule of the controlled narcotic. Possession with the intent to distribute or sell large quantities could carry a 20-year sentence, Ruark said.
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rabit Offline
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Default 08-25-2007, 08:05 AM

Salsbury is the ghetto of the eastern shore. There is one non competitive University there but other than that it's just cotton fields and chicken farms and processing. That areaa has always had a huge crack problem. I just dont so much see the way the article paints the picture.

I think their stats come alot from the university kids who come largely from baltimore and east coast suburbs (not salsbury ghetto kids)
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Default 08-25-2007, 02:54 PM

What a bunch of mis-information

"other medicines with the strong pain-reliever codeine."
Strong my ass.

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vapor Offline
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Default 09-10-2007, 04:58 PM

As Delmarva schools prepare to start classes this week, there's a new type of farming lesson creeping into teen bookbags and weekend parties. Pharming, or pharm parties, bring teens together to mix and blend prescription drugs into sometimes hallucinogenic or mind-altering cocktails to get high.
wow, i mean was that even suppose to be a pun? or something?



"If you're prescribed 50 pills, and after a few days, only 30 are left, that's a problem," the detective said. "I think there is a problem. It's out there."
better stand up a bit straighter if you want to pull that one all the way out your ass...

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Unnamed Offline
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Default 09-10-2007, 06:16 PM

DXM is still new? I thought we've been abusing it starting with the rest?
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locomotiv Offline
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Default 09-18-2007, 05:30 PM

Originally posted by rabit@Aug 25 2007, 07:05 AM
Salsbury is the ghetto of the eastern shore.
The eastern shore is the ghetto of the mid atlantic and salsbury is one of the nicer places on the eastern shore.

"This is the beginning of the rangelands, boy. Hand me another drink." -Montana Slim
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