American Kids Getting High On Prescription Drugs

By Motorhead · Mar 20, 2006 · ·
  1. Motorhead
    There have been quite a few articles on this topic lately. And I'm loving it. Not because kids are getting hooked, but because it's blowing the lid off of the old marijuana 'gateway' theory.


    BOSTON ( Reuters ) - When Paul Michaud's father died of cancer, the 16-year-old took OxyContin to ease his emotional pain.

    He first snorted the prescription painkiller and within weeks he was injecting it into his veins for a more powerful high before turning to heroin as a cheaper option.

    "It was the one drug that really pulled me. It took away everything," said Michaud, now 18, one of a new generation of American children getting high on and addicted to prescription drugs.

    Teenagers are increasingly experimenting with legal drugs like OxyContin, widely known as "hillbilly heroin," and Vicodin, often bought online or taken from medicine cabinets, even before trying marijuana or alcohol, health officials say.

    "Last year, painkillers were the No. 1 drug for people taking drugs for the first time," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an arm of the government's National Institutes of Health.

    "It's been escalating and escalating," she said. "In the past, the No. 1 drug for new initiates was marijuana."

    Michaud, who attended a Boston area high school, was caught stealing to pay for what he described as his almost instant addiction to OxyContin -- which can cost $80 to $100 for a 40 mg pill. He was then checked into a drug and alcohol clinic.

    He has since been in and out of rehab programs six times.

    "It destroyed my life pretty much. I haven't seen any of my teenage years," he said from the Phoenix House, a clinic in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield, where he says he has been clean for 50 days.

    Michaud is not alone. Last year's Monitoring the Future study, produced jointly by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan, found a 38-percent rise in abuse of OxyContin among 18-year-olds between 2002 and 2005.

    While overall drug use dropped 19 percent over the past four years, about one in 10 teenagers were abusing prescription drugs, the survey showed.

    "Pharming Parties"

    Among the most dangerous experiments are "pharming parties" where children meet after scouring family medicine cabinets and dumping what they find into a bowl. They stir things up, dip in, randomly pluck drugs out and swallow them.

    "They literally do not know what they are taking," said Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital in Boston.

    "They can overdose or take medications that counteract with each other or interact with each other in dangerous ways. When you combine the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin for example with alcohol, they work in the same way and can very much lower the threshold at which you stop breathing," he said.

    Volkow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse said many teens associate prescription drugs with family doctors, and consider them safe, or have had positive experiences with properly prescribed medication in their early childhood.

    The challenge, she said, is to control abuse without banning drugs that do more good than harm to society. OxyContin, which is sold generically and generates about $2 billion in annual sales, is widely used in hospitals.

    The issue grabbed public attention in Boston after the suicide in January of 17-year-old Cameron O'Connor, who shot himself in the head a day after taking Klonopin. His death in Boston's middle-class Arlington suburb triggered calls for better ways to detect teen abuse of prescription drugs.

    Teenagers are not the only prescription drug abusers. The number of people over the age of 55 treated for abuse of opiates, for example, has nearly doubled between 1995 and 2002, government statistics show. In 2003, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh admitted becoming hooked on OxyContin.

    "We're also seeing an increase in the use of these drugs in young adults," said Lloyd Johnston, lead investigator at Michigan's Institute for Social Research, which researches the government's 700-page Monitoring the Future study.
    Map-March 18, 2006
    "Teenagers are increasingly experimenting with legal drugs like OxyContin, widely known as "hillbilly heroin," and Vicodin, often bought online or taken from medicine cabinets, even before trying marijuana or alcohol, health officials say."

    "It's been escalating and escalating," she said. "In the past, the No. 1 drug for new initiates was marijuana."

    I've noticed comments like this in all the articles i've browsed. People jumping right into opiates without ever having taken marijuana. There was a similar situation in America around 1900. There was a huge morphine problem at the time. Morphine use during the civil war left a large population, especially in the north, addicted to morphine. Around the same time their were many travelling salesmen who would sell 'patent medicines'; many of these patent medicines were often up to 50% morphine in content. Alot of rural middle-aged people became hooked as a result, and the US govt passed the Food and Drug Act in 1906, and then The Harrison Narcotics Act in 1914-the first two of many acts over the next 100 years-to combat morphine addiction and drugs in general. Nobody knew what the hell marijuana was in 1914, generally speaking.
    In 1906 marijuana had nothing to do with opiate addiction, just as in 2006. Now the medicines are properly labelled and legal for medicinal use, the travelling salesman has been replaced by the internet, and marijuana is still illegal. Opiate addiction is the result of opiates being highly addictive, not the existance of booze or weed providing a gateway to hell.
    hehe, this will all make more sense once my Manifesto gets published.

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  1. Abrad
    I fail to see how this can be blamed on the drug, alot of people who commit violent crime have drank coffee or smoked cigarettes within a day of it happening and I don't see anyone trying to have these drugs banned.
  2. old hippie 56
    Go to any high school or college campus, kids trading drugs for self-medication. Growing trend across America. Buying the stuff on-line.
  3. Motorhead
    Well, thats a good point abrad84. The war on drugs has many inherent stupities throughout its history, hypocrisy being a big one. Why are alcohol, tobacco, caffeine regulated and legal for mass consumption? Because from the start they have been culturally acceptable and now they are big part of the economy, big cash cows for govt. Forget that booze and cigs cause more deaths than all other illegal drugs combined,, the war must go on!
  4. scotty6435
    I have no idea how people would be so stupid as to do this. I can see people bringing in beta blockers and stuff to score free hydros :p

    Isn't this part of the problem? Over-prescription is the main reason there's so much of this stuff lying around to steal. I have elderly neighbours that I help look after and they literall have a drawer full of prescription painkillers (no, I haven't taken any). It's become the 'magic bullet' of pain relief that penicillin was to disease.

    Also, I totally agree with the suicide story, I fail to understand how a benzo can drive someone to suicide that isn't already well on the way to it. It's the same as someone having a few swigs of dutch courage before doing something difficult.
  5. sands of time
    No, that position is held by alcohol and/or cigarettes. There is no double standard unless your an idiot, they are all drugs PERIOD!

    Are kids really that stupid??? Why are we trying to reverse evolution anyways, do we really want these people for tomorrow's America?! At any rate, I never heard of something like this happening. The dangers are so in your face, it boggles the mind...
  6. Desertfox
    Watch the movie Chumscrubber
    Its exactly about this whole "kids in america being addicted to prescription drugs" situation. It is a wierd ass movie.
  7. Nagognog2
    Back in the 1960's, the government propaganda mill churned out, and planted in newspapers/magazines, stories about kids playing "Bathroom Roulette." Here little Bobby and Susie would go to some kids house with their pals Scooter and Biff. The parents were away (and it was a dark and stormy night, too - no doubt). Then the little darlin's would go to Mom & Pop's bathroom and take all the pills in the medicine bottles and pour them on the floor. The lights were switched off. Now the kids were supposed to crawl around on the floor on their hands and knees - and swallow any and every pill they could find in the dark!

    Looks like a variant of this old chestnut has been resurrected.
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