This archived article was written by: Kris Kohler
Interviews conducted by The Eagle staff over the past weeks revealed that many residents and students feel there is a behind the scenes drug epidemic spreading like wildfire in the Carbon County area and no one, including campus law enforcement, seems to know how to fight it.
Drugs on campus aren’t a new problem. Colleges have been havens for drugs and alcohol use since the mainstream introduction of the counter culture fad in the early ’70s, with popular movies such as “Animal House” and “Cheech and Chong.”
Interviews with most students demonstrated the rapid escalation from casual to more serious drug abuse.
“I graduated from Carbon High and back then the big taboos were alcohol and cigarettes. There was also marijuana and hallucinogenics, but things like heroin and meth [methanphetamines] were unheard of,” Gerald Pappas said. “The drug problem now is far worse than when I went to school and it seems like it has turned into America’s dirty little secret. I think that parents need to take a way more active role in educating their children on the dangers and effects of drug and alcohol abuse. The first thing that they can do is attend some local Narcotics Anonymous meetings with their children. NA meetings are not just for users, they can also be used as a powerful educational tool that should definitely not be overlooked. Denial isn’t a river in Egypt.”
The average age of initiation is 19 years old, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. However, the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program targets middle school- aged students and there are currently no programs designed specifically to educate this age group about drug abuse.
“I have lived in several different states while growing up and there is a definite drug problem everywhere,” said a CEU student who wished to remain anonymous. “About half of the kids that I know use some type of drug. Most of them will do whatever they can, as long as it will get them high. I know that some of them have a serious problem and they know it. They won’t seek help because they are afraid of getting in trouble. Most of the people that I know don’t like authority figures. They would rather try to quit on their own with the support of their friends than going to some institution. The last thing they want is for their family to find out.”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said, that in 2006, an estimated 2.8 million persons 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months; this averages to nearly 8,000 initiates per day, 57.8 percent were younger than 18 when they first used and about 53.2 percent were female.
The specific drug categories with the largest number of recent initiates among persons ages 12 or older were the non-medical use of pain relievers and marijuana, followed by non-medical use of tranquilizers, cocaine, ecstasy, stimulants and inhalants. Among persons ages 12 to 49, the average age of the first use of inhalants was 16. It was 17 for marijuana, 20 for cocaine, 20 for Ecstasy, 22 for pain relievers and 26 for sedatives.
“While marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug, the misuse of prescription drugs is clearly a growing national concern that requires action from multiple segments of our society,” said Assistant Surgeon General Eric Broderick who is also SAMHSA’s acting deputy administrator.
The use of opioid analgesics is a progressive process, according to SAMHSA’s annual report.
Initially it isn’t very difficult to get pills such as Loratab or Percocet and although an individual needs a prescription to obtain the narcotics, most youth preform an act referred to by SAMSHA as “Farming”.
“Farming” is defined substance abuse professionals pills as the act of stealing narcotics and tranquilizers from parents, grandparents and other acquaintances that have obtained legitimate prescriptions.
According to a local former substance abuser, now in recovery, this type of behavior usually escalates to doctor shopping, or faking an injury in order to get pain medication, finally leading to the buying of pills off the street. As the addict continues using, their tolerance increases thus making it essential to find more potent opiates to satisfy their addiction.
This eventually causes the user to seek out OxyContin and because of its extremely high street price and high demand will usually in time drive the addict to seek out heroin which is cheaper and offers essentially the same if not stronger effects.
According to SAMSHA opioid drugs induce euphoria by affecting the cerebral regions that mediate what is perceived as pleasure. This feeling is often intensified for those who abuse opiates when administered by routes other than those recommended.
According to “inthenow.com” the current problem with OxyContin abuse in the United States is a perfect example of a fad on fire. OxyContin started as a revolutionary and highly beneficial new prescription medication that is still in use today. OC is intended for use on patients with severe injuries and illnesses, such as sever cancer and trauma.
“Someone, somewhere, got the idea to abuse OC’s power for an easy high. He told two friends, and they told two friends and then bang! A drug abuse epidemic was born. Numerous schemes have been launched to educate kids about drugs, but how can we lecture children and teenagers about the dangers when, at the same time, celebrities flaunt their drug and party lifestyles to the mass media,” said Cletis Steele, a member of the CEU Campus Police.
An estimated 816,696 drug-related emergency department visits involved a major substance of abuse. SAMSHA estimates:
•Cocaine was involved in 448,481 ER visits.
•Marijuana was involved in 242,200 ER visits.
•Heroin was involved in 164,57ER visits.
•Stimulants, included aphet- amines and methamphet amine, were involved in 138,950 ER visits.
•Other illicit drugs, such as PCP, Ecstasy, and GHB, were much less frequent than any of the above.
The increase in the use of opioid analgesics and amphetamines among young adults has sparked a whole new set of worries. Recreational drug use isn’t going away, only evolving in to a game of Russian roulette where the six shooter only has one empty chamber,” Pappas said.