Photo by Mark Hodapp
Jaymi Holloman, a third-year pharmacy student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, talks with a Highland High School health class about the dangers of taking stimulants and depressants.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Highland News Leader writer Mark Hodapp featured SIUE School of Pharmacy students in a story posted Wednesday, April 30. The SIUE students have taken the program’s drug awareness program into junior and senior high schools in Madison and St. Clair counties. The article follows:
It’s hard to talk about heroin being a “problem” without mentioning the recreational use of prescription drugs, Highland Police Sgt. Chris Conrad said.
“Many teenagers have a false sense of security thinking prescription drugs are safe, because they were prescribed by a doctor,” he said. “But taking prescription drugs for non-medical use to get high can be just as dangerous and addictive to taking illegal street drugs.”
On Friday, three Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville’s School of Pharmacy students — Jaymi Holloman, along with Kimberlee Kabbes and Elizabeth Lass — talked in great length about the dangers of prescription drugs with the Highland High School health classes.
In recent months, the SIUE pharmacy school has taken its drug awareness program into area junior high and high schools in Madison and St. Clair counties.
Studies have shown children who receive drug prevention education at home and in school are less likely to use drugs, Kabbes said.
But recreational prescription drug use is on the increase among teenagers, she said.
According to the National Education Association (NEA) Health Information Network, one in six teens admitted to using a prescription drug for other than its prescribed purpose.
“Children and teenagers are no longer just using prescriptions to get high,” the NEA stated in its Rx for Destruction flyer. “They are using prescription medications to change their mood, stay awake longer, study harder and even fit in with friends.”
Take pain killers, for instance. A lot of teenagers are legally prescribed pain killers after their wisdom teeth are removed, Kabbes said. But pain killers are commonly abused and obtained illegally, though. According to the NEA, 2/3 of teens who abuse prescription pain medication report getting it illegally from either a family member or friend, Kabbes said.
Sgt. Conrad added there is a huge black market today for prescription pain killers.
“Their target audience is the same people who are using heroin today,” he said. “They are mixing heroin with a prescription pain killer, to get a different high.”
So, why are prescription drugs so popular with teens?
According to NEA, 43 percent of teens indicated prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs.
But prescription drugs are only safe for individuals who actually have prescriptions for them, Lass said.
“That’s because a doctor has examined these people and prescribed the right dose of medication for a specific medical condition,” she said.
Taking prescription drugs in a way that hasn’t been recommended by a doctor can be more dangerous than people think.
“And it’s just as illegal as taking street drugs,” Kabbes said. “Taking drugs without a prescription — or sharing a prescription drug with friends — is actually breaking the law.” Lass cited depressants and stimulants as an example.
Abruptly stopping or reducing a stimulant can also lead to seizures, Holloman added.
“Taking depressants with other medications, such as prescription painkillers, some over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, or alcohol can slow a person’s heartbeat and breathing — and even kill,” she said. “… Abusing stimulants (like some ADHD drugs) may also cause heart failures or seizures.”
This article is from http://www.siue.edu/.