Colorado

Mar 2, 2012 8:23 AM by Andy Koen

Prescription drug abuse a growing problem

Prescription medications are frequently making their way into the wrong hands, and much too often it's teenagers who are suffering as a result. In 2009, the most recent year on record, 445 people in Colorado died from abusing pain pills. Pill popping is also the second most frequent drug abused in the US behind marijuana.

Matthew Barden, Resident Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration of Colorado Springs say the problem is getting harder to ignore. Just last month two students were charged and three others were disciplined at Sand Creek High School for trading and abusing pills on school property.

"They've got an arrest for being a drug dealer because that is what you are actually doing is selling drugs, regardless of if it's heroine or cocaine or methamphetamine, they're selling drugs," Barden said.

A survey of teens in the Denver-metro area found that as many as a third admitted to abusing prescription medicines. Barden says young people make a deadly mistake of assuming the drugs are safe because they're prescribed by a doctor.

"The number of deaths is staggering. I mean, you're talking about 2 and 3 times the amount of prescription deaths that compared to alcohol related deaths."

Prevention starts at home, parents and grand parents are encouraged to dispose of old medications and to keep their current prescriptions safely locked away.

"They feel that it's easier to get nowadays, by their own admission, that prescription drugs are easier to get than beer," Barden said.

The DEA will host a nationwide drug take back day on April 28. Certain pain medications are considered controlled substances and as such should only be surrendered at the take back events.

However, the Food and Drug Administration has released guidelines for general prescription disposal.

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