The most dangerous terrorists have been roaming the country for decades and continue to be successful in frightening, increasing numbers with their daily, deadly operations.We have met the enemy and he is us - rx drug abuse is reaching epidemic proportions.
In 2008, 15.2 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site). The NIDA-funded 2008 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 2.9% of 8th graders, 6.7% of 10th graders, and 9.7% of 12th graders had abused Vicodin and 2.1% of 8th graders, 3.6% of 10th graders, and 4.7% of 12th graders had abused OxyContin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Web Site)
Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include opioids (for pain), central nervous system depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), meperidine (Demerol®), and diphenoxylate (Lomotil®). Central nervous system depressants include barbiturates such as pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®). Stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®), and amphetamines (Adderall®).
The Popularity of Prescription Drugs
Carol Falkowski, director of research communications for the Hazelden Foundation, a treatment center based in Center City, Minn., says prescription pills have become popular among youths because they are easy to get and represent a more socially acceptable way of getting high than taking street drugs. (Donna Leinwand, Prescription Drugs Find Place in Teen Culture, USA Today, June 13 2006)
Some kids, she says, are self-medicating undiagnosed depression or anxiety, while others are using stimulants to try to get an edge on tests and studying.
Falkowski says prescription drugs are familiar mood-altering substances for a generation that grew up as prescriptions soared for Ritalin and other stimulants to treat maladies such as attention-deficit disorder. "Five million kids take prescription drugs every day for behavior disorders," she says.
"It's not unusual for kids to share pills with their friends. There have been incidents where kids bring a Ziploc baggie full of pills to school and share them with other kids."
She also said, "Young abusers of prescription drugs also have begun using the Internet to share 'recipes' for getting high. Some websites are so simplistic, she says, that they refer to pills by color, rather than their brand names, content or potency."
The 2005 Partnership for a Drug-Free America survey found that more than three in five teens can easily get prescription painkillers from their parents' medicine cabinets. And as Falkowski says, the rising number of youths being treated with stimulants has made it easier for kids to use such drugs illicitly. About 3% of children are treated with a stimulant such as Adderall or Ritalin, up from less than 1% in 1987.
To try to reduce the supply of prescription drugs on the black market, authorities have shut down several "pill mills" — where doctors prescribe inordinate amounts of narcotics — as well as Internet pharmacies that ship drugs with little medical consultation, says Catherine Harnett, chief of demand reduction for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The constant terrorism of rx drug abuse exerted upon our children involving peer pressure, drug dealers, pill mills, public acceptance, and ease of attainment is much more dangerous than the threats of Al Qaeda or of the Taliban. In a drug culture, parents must take responsibility for their children's lack of recognition of severe danger. The first step to curbing abuse is identification of the problem and addressing troubling trends.
- Pharming - Kids “getting high” abusing Rx or OTC drugs;
- It has never been easier for teens to obtain intentional highs from medications - Internet accessibility and loose e-commerce enforcement further enable easy acquisition;
- Parents do not understand the behavior of intentionally abusing medicines to get high;
- Parents are not discussing the risks of abuse of prescription and/or non-prescription cough medicine with their children;
- Three out of five parents report discussing marijuana “a lot” with their children, but only one third of parents report discussing the risks of using prescription medicines or non-prescription cold or cough medicine to get high.
Bottom line: a “Culture of Pharming” has taken root among America’s teens; only through education, prevention and the involvement of parents can it be rooted out. The Partnership for a Drug-free America's research has shown that kids who report learning a lot about the risks of abuse from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs as those who don’t. Unfortunately, most parents are either unaware or in denial about their kids’ vulnerability and exposure to the intentional abuse of Rx and OTC medicines.
Perhaps because parents generally don’t think their teen could be vulnerable to Rx/OTC abuse, they don’t understand the idea of abusing such medications to get high, and, like far too many teens, they don’t think the abuse of these drugs can be as dangerous as the abuse of street drugs.
Real terror in America is the reality of horrible prescription drug addiction and its dark consequences -- pain, suffering, economic chaos, family destruction, crime, imprisonment, and death. Those who deal in this drug culture are people who use calculated violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear. Their ideology is based on the love of money and the indifference for addicts' lives. Intimidation and fear are weapons of their successful operation. The most vulnerable people we love are their major targets.
Excellent information from the Partnership at DrugFree.org: