2009-02-14 / Front Page

PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE ALARM GOES OFF IN POTTER

Potter County District Attorney Dawn Fink reports an increase in prescription drug abuse among teenagers and young adults in the region.

She says certain medications now have a recognized street value, which has prompted some enterprising criminals to steal the pills and peddle them.

Often, the medications are found in the seller's own home or in a relative's, friend's or neighbor's residence. It has reached the point where a person might have to think twice about whether to let a visitor use the bathroom.

"Additionally, home break-ins are occurring in an effort to find these drugs," Fink said.

There's a market among abusers for painkillers such as vicodin, oxycontin, percocet, dilaudid and fentanyl; sleeping/ anti-anxiety medication such as ativan, valium, xanax; and amphetamines such as ritalin and dexedrine.

"What many people don't understand is that when these drugs are used recreationally, they are not taken in the prescribed amounts or even in the usual manner," the D.A. pointed out. "For instance, kids are grinding up oxycontin and snorting it or sucking on fentanyl patches to get a more concentrated high."

"Misuse of these prescription drugs can easily lead to addiction," she continued. "When taken inappropriately, painkillers such as vicodin and oxycontin can have the same effect on the brain as heroin. Worse yet, abuse of these prescription drugs can even lead to death. Tragically, Potter County has lost several young adults to prescription drug overdoses in the last few years."

Fink urged residents to keep all prescription medications locked up and to dispose of unused prescriptions, rather than storing them for possible future use.

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