The Orangetown Substance Abuse Committee shared the following letter to the editor regarding prescription drug abuse.
Addiction to opioids, or pain killers, is a major problem among teenagers and adults throughout the United States. In 2011, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 1.8 million Americans were considered dependent on or abusers of prescription pain killers. Among teens in high school, nearly 15% used a prescription drug for nonmedical purposes in 2012, with Vicodin the most abused pain killer. Abuse among adults aged 50 to 59 years also increased by 4% between 2002 and 2011, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The pain killers most commonly associated with emergency room visits include hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone—the same pain killers that are sitting on the shelves of medicine cabinets in homes right here in Orangetown. These are the same pain killers that teenagers commonly obtain from the family medicine cabinet and bring as their entrance fee to “pill parties,” also known as "skittles parties," going on right here in our community. The same pain killers that four local teens/young adults overdosed on and died from in the last three years.
Among adults, abuse of pain killers often innocently starts with a prescription for chronic pain management or pain management after surgery, but leads to a crippling addiction requiring hospitalization. The lucky ones check themselves into Detox Units at local hospitals when the prescriptions run out. A recent upswing in the numbers of elderly patients admitted to local hospitals for prescription drug dependence is evidence of this growing trend. The unlucky ones eventually run out of doctor shopping options and switch to heroin, which is cheaper and much easier to get than prescription pain killers. Yes, heroin is available right here on the streets of Orangetown.
As a preventive measure, the Orangetown Substance Abuse Committee, along with the Orangetown Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the State Police, will host a Operation Medicine Cabinet Clean Out day on April 27, 2013, inviting us all to voluntarily bring any medications that are expired or no longer being used to the Orangetown Town Hall for proper disposal. Additional drop-off dates and locations will be announced. Disposing of medications through Operation Medicine Cabinet Clean Out will help keep dangerous prescription medications out of the hands of our children.
To further increase your awareness of the illegal drug activity threatening our local youth, consider attending the Parent University workshop, entitled “Dangerous Teen Drug Trends,” Thursday, April 13, 2013, at 7:30 pm at the Pearl River School District Administration Building at 135 West Crooked Hill Road. This free presentation and discussion will focus on current drug paraphernalia and trends, including updates on “old” drugs, illicit street drugs, and legal substances currently being abused by teenagers.
The program will be lead by Judy Mezey, MS, Assistant Director of Community Based Programs, and Andrea Fallick, LCSW, CASAC, CCP, Assistant Director for School Based Programs with Student Assistance Services Corp., and is sponsored by the Pearl River School District Continuing Adult Education Department and district PTA groups. For more information, call 845-620-3921.
And finally, if you have any drug-related concerns, you can anonymously call the local Substance Abuse Hotline at 1-845-826-4026.
The Orangetown Substance Abuse Committee