Recreation prescription drug use on the rise
September 15, 2008 3:06 PM
Every decade had its signature drug – the ‘70s had its acid wave, the ‘80s its cocaine addiction and the ‘90s were all about Ecstasy.
Now, the trend that may come to define the early millennium has moved the drug supply off the streets and into the medicine cabinet.
“I took Vicodin and really liked it. Now when I can get my hands on it, I do,” said Michael LeRoy, a senior business major at SF State.
On the street, a prescription drug such as Vicodin can be sold for between $5 and $10 per pill at 500 – 1000 milligrams. OxyContin, a brand name for oxycodone, is known on the street as "Hillbilly Heroin" and is sold at a much steeper price of $60 per 80 milligram pill.
However, because doctors are so generous when prescribing painkillers it’s easy to obtain them from someone, whether it is a friend or family member.
LeRoy obtained both Vicodin and oxycodone recently from one friend who got them after having his wisdom teeth pulled and other who had broken his arm.
"They were prescribed more than enough, no one needs 30 oxycodone when they get their wisdom teeth pulled," LeRoy said.
Recreational use of prescription drugs seems to fall into a gray category of social acceptance. They aren’t exactly frowned upon because so many people obtain them legally, and it’s been just recently that people have taken notice of the fact they hold a problem among users.
It wasn’t until April 2007 that the Office of National Drug Control Policy officially recognized the fact that there was a prescription drug abuse problem in America.
“While destructive street drugs like meth and crack produce gruesome news images and headlines, prescription drug abuse has quietly become a major part of our Nation’s addiction problem,” John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy said in the April 2007 press release from the ONDCO.
Since the beginning of the decade there has been a decline in problems with illicit drug use and a large rise in the prescription drug use.
In the last six years prescription drug abuse has been the only addiction on the rise. The ONDCP reported in a press release in March 2008 that in 2007 there was a 25 percent decrease in teen marijuana use, over 50 percent decrease in Ecstasy abuse; and 64 percent decrease in methamphetamine use.
The prescription drug Adderall is a popular drug among high school and college students. Those who take the drug and do not need it are left with a feeling similar, but not as strong, as a high from cocaine. It allows them to stay focused and awake, which is why it’s often used for cramming before an exam.
“Adderall is very bad for someone who doesn’t need it,” said Brenda Hyde the clinic manager at SF State’s Student Health Services. “This drug has many serious side-effects.”
Some of the effects include fainting, light-headedness, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, and muscle twitches and can happen from mixing something such as cold medicine.
Kate Jeffers, a senior biology major at SF State, has been prescribed the drug Adderall since she was 12. She had multiple signs of attention deficit disorder and a mild learning disability with reading.
“I really need my medication. My friends would ask me to give them some or to buy them, especially during finals, but I can’t. I only get enough for the month and if I don’t have them then I can’t do what I need to do in my life,” Jeffers said.
Prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Soma and Valium are a few of the popular relaxation drugs as well as percocet and oxycodone.
LeRoy first came in contact with Vicodin when he was prescribed it after his wisdom teeth were pulled as a teen.
While some people snort Vicodin and other pain killers or muscle-relaxers to get an immediate and intense reaction, LeRoy prefers to swallow the pills for a longer high.
“It’s a feeling of being relaxed and euphoric,” LeRoy said. “Kind of like Ecstasy but without the wanting to be touched.”
Other ways people get prescription drugs is through Internet pharmacies. In March 2008 President Bush outlined a plan of how to regulate online pharmacies because of the rising problem. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to regulate any Internet business and often times these drugs come from overseas, making it even more difficult.
If someone is addicted to prescription pills they may be lethargic, often become nauseated, or experience weight loss. They may also experience nervousness, anxiety, inability to concentrate, anger or weepiness.
“It is often the roommate of students who realize the addiction,” Hyde said. “Most of the students have roommates and it is them who will notice the change.”
For more information on prescription drug abuse and how to find help contact the Student Health Center on campus or call (415) 338-1251.
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