Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
"As a parent, I was very surprised at the information that we got," said Councilwoman Marie Waldron at the Escondido City Council meeting of December 16. She was referring to what she'd gathered at the recent Legislative Policy Summit of The Oxy Task Force of San Diego, a collaberative group spear-headed by County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.
Waldron referred to Oxycodone as the main ingredient in Oxycontin, a synthetic opiate that gives a heroin-like high. "Most people grow up with the idea that prescription drugs are safe," she said. "They'll see their parents pop a pill for a headache; or give them Tylenol when kids are sick, but prescription drug abuse is one of the biggest and growing problems we have in this country.
"Most bathroom medicine cabinets contain long-forgotten prescription drugs. Kids know the drugs are there and they're using them."
Young people between the ages of 17 and 25 (some as young as 12) are buying Oxycontin wherever they can get it and are paying $50 to $80 per pill. It is highly addictive and often leads to the use of heroin, a much cheaper alternative at $50 per gram. It is more lethal than Vicoden and is becoming increasingly common at parties, particularly in affluent areas of San Diego. This year, there have been 51 prescription drug-related deaths and Alvarado Parkway Institute has reported a tripling of weekly Oxycontin-related treatment caseloads in the past year.
Kids get drugs over the Internet, by theft, using fradulent prescription pads and dirty doctors; or, from foreign countries. Users may start with a quarter of a pill and can go up to 8 pills a day. Heavy users spend upwards of $640 per day. In its continuous-release form, Oxycodone is known as Oxycontin. "A user will typically rub off the time-release coating of the pill and then smoke it, crush it, snort it, or inject it," Waldron said. "The full effect is then immediate so that it is a full-on attack."
She also mentioned that the early warnings signs are important because parents are the first line of defense in fighting the problem.
The signs are as follows:
Loss of interest in things that were once important to the kids
Withdrawl from the family
A drop in academic performance
Loss of motivation
Is always tired
Is constantly asking for money with nothing to show for it
Items are missing from the home
Waldron emphasized the importance of searching for paraphernalia. "If you see aluminum foil in kids' rooms," she said. "they use that in hollowed-out pens and straws, lighters, especially aluminum foil with black streaks on it in their rooms. ...they take the pill and put it on the foil and heat it up; and, as the pill melts a little bit, it smokes, and it moves down the foil and creates a black streak and they inhale that smoke and they get an instant high from that."