Prescription drug danger prompts officials’ warnings

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Monday, March 11, 2013

— In the good old days, parents only had to worry about marijuana, underage drinking and the remote possibility that their good kids would turn to more serious drugs.

Those days are gone.

Now parents have to worry about the illegal drugs that young people traditionally use and the new epidemic of abuse: prescription drugs that can be in any home.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Janesville Mobilizing 4 Chance is hosting “Good Drugs Gone Bad” in Janesville, a program for parents, grandparents and anyone else who has prescription drugs in their bathroom or kitchen cabinets.

Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change is a collaboration between community members and groups that focuses on underage alcohol use, youth marijuana use and prescription drug misuse by teens.

The problem?

“There’s ease of access,” said Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach. “It’s easy for young people to help themselves.”

Janesville Crime Prevention Officer Chad Sullivan put it this way: “Marijuana is not in every household. Heroin is not in every household. These drugs are in every household.”

The most popular drug, by far, is Oxycodone, the painkiller that gives users a sense of euphoria.

Second to painkillers are medications for attention deficit disorders, such as Ritalin and Adderal. Some high-achieving students use such drugs to help them focus during exams or study for extended periods of time.

Finally, and perhaps most distressingly, is the random recreational use of all prescriptions.

“Skittling” or “pharming” involves taking a variety of prescription drugs, mixing them up and taking two or three, Sullivan said.

“Prescription drugs don’t have that fear factor,” Sullivan said. “Young people just don’t fear them.”

The lack of fear, combined with the drugs’ legal status, means that “good kids” often end up experimenting with them.

Even parents who lock up their liquor cabinets might not consider locking up their prescriptions.

“Lock them up,” Sullivan said, “Don’t leave them in the medicine cabinet.”

Keep the drugs out of the kitchen cabinets, as well, Keach said.

When Keach goes to a home after a death, the first place she looks for drugs is in the medicine cabinet; the second place is in kitchen cabinets.

Keach also will talk about the abuse of over-the-counter drugs and the signs of prescription drug abuse and addiction in the general population.

Of primary concern?

“Without any question, it’s Oxycodone,” Keach said.

Often, the addiction or abuse starts with an appropriately prescribed prescription of pain medication. She has seen cases where loved ones don’t want to intervene with the addict because they are afraid the person will lose access to his or her medications.

Last updated: 7:57 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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