Pubdate: Mon, 17 Sep 2007
Source: Mohave Valley Daily News (AZ)
Copyright: 2007 Mohave Valley News
Author: Jim Seckler, The Daily News
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


Prescription drugs used illegally can cause nausea, seizures, even

The common misconception of prescription drugs is most people think
since these drugs are prescribed by doctors, they're safe to use.
However, the abuse of prescribed drugs is becoming more and more common.

Dr. Cynthia Brennan of the Silver Creek Family Practice in Bullhead
City said she has heard of a group of patients who go
"doctor-shopping" or going from doctor to doctor for prescribed drugs.

Other people often share medications with friends thinking drugs as
prescribed by a doctor would be safe compared to illegal drugs.

"They don't understand what they are doing is wrong," Brennan said.
"It can be very dangerous sharing medications."

Brennan also said people who abuse prescription drugs could be any
age, gender or economic status. She theorizes seniors, who are in
their 60s and 70s and came of age in the 1960s during the drug
culture, may be tolerant of taking drugs.

It is the pharmacy's responsibility to notify doctors if a patient
obtains prescribed drugs from another doctor. Some drugs may interact
with other drugs. It is also a physician's responsibility to know the
effects of drugs such as oxycodone.

A doctor in Florida was recently convicted of the murder of a 21-year
college student for overprescribing that drug.

Brennan said she sometimes offer her patients non-narcotic drugs,
chiropractic, acupuncture or alternative medicines.

Dr. Alan Barton, a Fort Mojave pediatrician, said in the past year he
has seen an increase of young people abusing prescribed drugs such as
OxyContin, which he said physicians falsely tout as less addictive.

Barton said he has four female patients addicted to Soma, a pain
reliever. His youngest patient is a 13-year-old who uses cough
medicine and marijuana. Others are known to huff inhalants such as
computer keyboard cleaner.

"It's not illegal so they don't think there is anything wrong," he

Kimberly Landero, a substance abuse counselor with ABC Therapy
Counseling Center, said because Mohave County has a large senior
population, children and grandchildren have easy access to their
parent or grandparent's prescription drugs. Prescription drug abuse
among seniors is also a growing and largely unreported problem.

Patients who go to a doctor for a broken leg, illness or some other
reason should tell their physician if they have a family history of
addiction. Doctors can then give their patients non-narcotic medicines
reducing the chance for addiction. Some physicians commonly over
prescribed medicines to their patients, Landero said.

According to Ron French, crisis intake adult services clinical
director at Mohave Mental Health Services, it is fairly common that
people come to facility for treatment as the result of becoming
addicted to prescribed benzodiazepines or medications such as Xanax

"Prescription drug abuse is common and definitely is a public health
issue in our adult population including the elderly," French said.

Some physicians are sending more patients to pain management
physicians, who limit the amount of prescription medication available
to a 30-day supply. It also means the patient has to be physically
seen by the physician on a regular basis and the prescription cannot
just be called in to the pharmacy, Mohave County Deputy Probation
Officer Len Frisch said.

The physical effects of abusing prescription drugs include seizures,
heart attacks, brain and liver damage. Other symptoms include
dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and slow breathing, according
to the Arizona chapter of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Soma, Ritalin, Vicoden, Xanax, Percodan and OxyContin are some of the
most commonly abused prescription drugs.. Most come in pill form and
can be swallowed or crushed then snorted or injected. DXM or
dextromethorphan is found in cough syrup and acts as a

Some effects of Soma are drowsiness, weakness, temporary vision loss,
vomiting and mental or physical impairment. Percodan can cause
vomiting, dizziness, nausea, sedation and light-headiness. Vicoden can
cause drowsiness, moodiness, decreased mental or physical abilities or
hearing loss. Ritalin can cause paranoia, hallucinations, tremors,
seizures or strokes. OxyContin causes respiratory depression,
weakness, dizziness, headaches and nausea.

Besides prescription drugs, the use of inhalants among eighth-grade
students in Arizona has increased by 27 percent. Parents rarely
mention inhalants when talking to their children about drugs or
cigarettes not wanting to tell them about inhaling. Abusing inhalants
in fact can be fatal.

Students use inhalants such as nail polish remover, metallic paint,
paint thinners, lighter fluid, cooking sprays, air fresheners, bug
spray and even deodorants.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake