McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

June 9, 2014

Prescription drug abuse

Detective’s Dispatch

By CHRIS MORRIS
Special Correspondent

McALESTER — One of the most common forms of substance abuse that we see or deal with these days is the abuse of prescription drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that nearly one-third of people age 12 and over whom used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

The same survey found that over 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or the Internet. Although there are a number of prescription drugs currently being abused, the most common one we see is the abuse of prescription opiate pain relievers such as Vicodin, Opana, morphine and Oxycontin.

The number of prescriptions filled for opiate pain relievers has increased dramatically in recent years. Opiates are a synthetic heroin that are FDA-approved, prescribed by a doctor and if taken properly are very effective in their use, but if they are abused or taken with other drugs or alcohol they can be deadly.

Other prescription drugs that are being abused are stimulants for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall, Concerta, or Ritalin and depressants for relieving anxiety, such as Valium or Xanax. Most prescription drugs are dispensed orally in tablets, but abusers sometimes crush the tablets and snort or inject the powder. This hastens the entry or the drug into the bloodstream and the brain and amplifies its effects. This is even more dangerous. Many people that get addicted to prescription opiates eventually switch to heroin, because it is cheaper and easier to get than prescription medication.

There is a common misperception among many parents and youth that prescription drugs are less dangerous when abused than illegal drugs because they are FDA-approved.  Many well-meaning parents do not understand the risks associated with giving prescribed medication to a teenager or another family member for whom the medication was not prescribed. Many parents are also not aware that youth are abusing prescription drugs; thus, they frequently leave unused prescriptions in open medicine cabinets while making sure to lock their liquor cabinets. Secure your medication in a safe place. Talk to your children about the dangers of drug use, including the abuse of prescription drugs.

The abuse of prescription drugs is a problem that affects or has affected all of us in one way or another. The problem was not caused by any one agency or individual and the problem can’t be fixed by one agency or individual, but if everybody works together, we can take a step in the right direction. If you have medication that you need or take frequently, keep it in a safe, secure place.

If you have medication around your house that you don’t need, dispose of it.

Thieves have broken into houses just to raid the medicine cabinet and steal prescription meds. It is illegal for anyone to posses these types of medications without a prescription. It is also illegal to sell it or even give it away. Doctors must be aware of abusers that doctor-shop and law enforcement must continue to fight this war on drugs. If you have medication that you need to dispose of, there is a disposal container located at the McAlester Police Department.

If you would like to schedule a neighborhood watch or safety program, contact officer Jeremy Busby at 918-423-9657 or email him at jeremy.busby@cityofmcalester.com.

If you have any information that may help us solve a crime, contact the McAlester Police Department’s Criminal Investigation division at 918-421-4917. You may remain anonymous.

To report any other criminal or suspicious activity, contact the McAlester Police Department at 918-423-1212 or dial 911 if it is an emergency.

Have a great week and don’t forget to buckle up!

Det. Sgt. Morris is the public

information officer for McAlester Police Department. Contact him at 918-423-1212 or chris.morris@cityof

mcalester.com.