Materialism, “give me novocaine” cries and addictions are what define our culture. Our society continuously looks for ways to rid pain and drugs are an easy way of doing that. Plant writer Gabe Gilker examines the increasing rise of prescription pill usage among teens, specifically those at Dawson.
To Whom it May Concern,
Please let it be noted that all medicine cabinets in the household should be locked and all prescription pills should be counted at the beginning and end of every day. If the numbers don’t match up or if you feel like you have to refill your prescriptions more than normal, then be forewarned. Chances are your teenage son or daughter is taking them to get high.
Many teenagers in today’s society have started following a new trend, taking prescription medication. Prescription medication is not only hazardous but also just as detrimental to the individual’s health as more common “street” drugs such as ecstasy, MDMA, cocaine and speed. In addition, it can cause a very intense dependency.
“I take Concerta to do my homework. I’m in Liberal Arts and work 30 hours a week. If I didn’t take Concerta I’d never get my homework done.You take one or two of the pills, sit down with a stack of homework next to you and just plough through.”
The most abused prescribed substance is “OxyContin,” which falls under the category of opiates.“Opiates specifically refers to the two opium alkaloids, morphine and codeine, and the semisynthetic drugs derived from them, such as heroin,” according to The Encycolpedia of Drug Abuse.
OxyContin is a morphine derivative that is highly addictive. It was created in Germany in 1916 as a replacement for heroin, due to its hazardous addiction factor. The Germans were trying to find a drug that could substitute morphine and heroin, giving patients the pain relief they needed without the intense addiction. It was achieved to some extent, meaning that Oxycontin does provide better, longer relief, but the withdrawal symptoms are worser than heroin itself.
In normal people terms: it’ll get you high, its sister-drug is heroin and it’ll get you hooked faster than you can say “dihydrohydroxycodeinone!”
A local drug dealer who wished to remain anonymous shared his point of view on the situation, providing a business-like approach to the affair with prescription drugs.
“All of a sudden in the past year or so I had kids calling me, I would propose to them my usual stuff, like ecstasy, speed, MDMA, but I was getting more and more requests for Oxy (OxyContin) and Concerta and Percocet. Medical junk like that. I decided that there was money to be made in this so I threw it into my list of stuff that I carry and it’s actually a pretty big seller. Especially among students at CEGEP and university,” the anonymous drug dealer said.
Prescriptions for OxyContin have doubled in Canada since 2005, making it one of the most prescribed pills on the market, and one of the most easily accessible, since it is used as a painkiller administered to people who are constantly in pain according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).This is apparently the majority of people in today’s society. The drug was originally made to be administered to cancer patients undergoing extreme treatments, but of course, over time, they lowered the threshold to which it should be given too. Now you can get a prescription for Oxycontin even if you have a broken limp because of its effectiveness on pain relief.
Heroin usage has decreased exponentially since Oxycontin gained popularity, so that could be seen as a positive. Except for the fact that as I mentionned earlier, the symptoms are much worse. I think we’ve all seen Trainspotting and know that scene where Renton, (Ewan McGregor) is laying in his bed going through a heroin withdrawal, shaking and freaking out, hallucinates his dead friend’s baby crawling on the ceiling. This doesn’t look like too much fun, does it? Why would anyone want to do something that could cause a reaction worse than that?
This drug isn’t only for the big boys, 60% of the prescriptions go to females.
In addition, they are 24% more likely to abuse the prescription pills then men. But here’s the real kicker, it’s not only CEGEP and university kids who are abusing prescription pills, this whole trend has worked its way down to the depths of high school. The grade who abuses it the most, ranking in a 24% of abusers across Canada, is grade nine, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in Ontario. Also another fun fact is that Canada has the second highest rating of opiates consumed per capita.
(We’re close behind the United States.) It’s not surprising on account of our massive populations and the fact that our society is very materialistic. North Americans are the most sheltered and desensitized society in the world today so it makes sense that we as a culture would abuse pain medication in order to be even more detached from our real everyday problems instead of dealing with them. In 2008 1.9 million teens in North America between the ages of 12 to 17 abused prescription drugs, as well as another 1.6 million who abused a prescription pain medication according to NIDA
Another pill on the rise is Concerta. The latter is much easier to obtain because the list of “illnesses” that you need to get a prescription include any one of the following: Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Attention- Deficit Disorder (ADD), narcolepsy, depression, obesity, lethargy, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and a whole other slew of problems. Concerta is mostly prescribed to anyone with A.D.H.D. and A.D.D. It is a more intense version on Ritalin. The thing is that if you don’t have A.D.H.D. or A.D.D. it has the reverse effect and will boost your energy levels.
“People that are taking drugs, whether they are legal or illegal, are using them as coping mechanisms. We should focus not only on the drug consumption but the bigger picture around the abuse,” ”Geneviève McCready, Health Education Nurse at Dawson said.
“I take Concerta to do my homework. I’m in Liberal Arts and work 30 hours a week. If I didn’t take Concerta I’d never get my homework done,” third semester student, Jenny Slater said. “You take one or two of the pills, sit down with a stack of homework next to you and just plough through. The Concerta keeps you focused and on track, you don’t really get distracted by the internet or television or food.”
“There are also risks in how the drug is taken. If you are snorting a pill and sharing the straw there’s more risk of contracting H.I.V. or Hepatitis,” Geneviève McCready, Health Education Nurse at Dawson said.
“I do it to escape reality. When I’m high I’m having fun. I can have fun when I’m not high… Just when I take Oxy or Percocet or just drugs in general I forget all the stress. All of a sudden I’m not worrying about homework, or classes or rent. It’s like a mini-vacation. It’s the equivalent of “Soma” for our generation. (Soma is a fictional drug in A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley that provides the people of the future an easier way to vacation)” Dave Milker, a first semester Arts and Culture student said.
“I do it to escape reality. When I’m high I’m having fun. I can have fun when I’m not high… Just when I take Oxy or Percocet or just drugs in general I forget all the stress. All of a sudden I’m notworrying about homework, or classes or rent. It’s like a mini-vacation.”
That’s the way a lot of kids feel about it, they take the drugs to forget their problems and it’s like a one night vacation. Unfortunately a lot of kids don’t know when to stop, one night turns into one week, and on and on until they’re hooked and all of a sudden going through withdrawal, vomiting in the bathroom and getting cold sweats and hot flashes at the worst possible time. If they can’t find enough money to support the habit they’ve slowly fallen into, many kids turn to crime in order to fuel their habits, sometimes stealing money from friends or family in order to purchase their drugs.
“People that are taking drugs, whether they are legal or illegal, are using them as a coping mechanism. It’s not the best way to cope, usually it means that there’s something else on the line. We should focus not only on the drug consumption but the bigger picture around the abuse,” McCready said.
The health benefits of taking prescription pills over “street” or “club” drugs, (ecstasy, MDMA, speed, cocaine, meth, among others) is that if you actually need them then they can be good for you. On the downside, that’s not really the case. Drug abuse is drug abuse no matter what you’re consuming. What many people fail to realize is that it is still chemicals that are being pumped into their bodies day in and day out and before they know it, they’re hooked. To say that prescription pills are safer to consume than any street drug out there would be a lie.
Here’s a quick little summary ofwhat withdrawal symptoms are like for many prescription drugs: flu-like symptoms with body and muscle aches, itchy skin inability to concentrate, insomnia, lack of motivation, headaches, nausea, and hot and cold flashes, cravings. And here’s what street drug withdrawal symptoms are like: insomnia, anxiety, tremors, nausea, cold sweats, hot and cold flashes.
Seems like you’re taking the same thing doesn’t it? Drugs are drugs, it doesn’t matter if you get it from your doctor or from your dealer. The thing is you’re ingesting something that your body doesn’t need. Any form of drug you ingest could be causing possible harm, so all that can be said is: if you are choosing to take drugs, take them with precaution and moderation.
*All names used are ficticious.