Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas
Author: Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press


CHICAGO -- Drug abuse experts say the arrest of Al Gore's son
underscores the growing problem of prescription drug abuse among
America's youth. College students use the stimulant Adderall, an
attention-deficit drug, to get a speedy high or pull

The other drugs police say they found in Al Gore III's possession --
marijuana, Xanax, Valium and Vicodin -- also are campus favorites,
experts say.

"Al Gore's son is just like everyone else's," said Dr. Donald Misch,
director of health services at Northwestern University in Evanston.
"The only thing missing was the No. 1 abused drug, which is alcohol."

Al Gore III's arrest may raise awareness among parents, Misch

"This is an opportunity for people to understand this is happening in
your household," he said. "These are your kids. The drug dealers
they're going to are their doctors, their parents and their friends."

Students commonly pair pills with beer and cigarettes, experts say.
They trade tips about the effects of prescription drugs on networking
sites like Facebook and trade pills they've stolen from home medicine
cabinets, ordered on the Internet or taken from friends with
legitimate prescriptions.

Prescription drug abuse among 18- to 25-year-olds rose 17 percent from
2002 to 2005, according to the White House drug policy office. In 2004
and again in 2005, there were more new abusers of prescription drugs
than new users of any illicit drug.

Young people mistakenly believe prescription drugs are safer than
street drugs, doctors say. But accidental prescription drug deaths are
rising, and students who abuse pills are more likely to drive fast,
binge-drink and engage in other dangerous behaviors.

The White House plans a national advertising campaign aimed at getting
parents to clean out their medicine cabinets and lock up any
prescription drugs they need, deputy drug czar Scott Burns said.

Al Gore III, 24, was driving about 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway
when he was pulled over Wednesday. He was arrested on suspicion of
illegal possession of marijuana and prescription drugs. While a
student at Harvard University, he was arrested in 2003 in connection
with marijuana possession.

He was released Wednesday on $20,000 bail.

Former Vice President Al Gore said Thursday that his son is getting
treatment. The drugs police say they found when they searched the
young Gore's car are commonly found on campus, experts say.

Vicodin, a brand name for acetaminophen and hydrocodone, is a
painkiller that works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain;
it can be addictive and can bring on a feeling of euphoria when abused.

Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) are both used to treat
anxiety and can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly; they
produce feelings of relaxation or drowsiness.

Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) is used to treat
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and can cause sudden death or
serious heart problems, especially if misused.


With the rise in prescription drug abuse, three federal agencies
issued guidelines this year for disposing of medications without
harming the environment.

Remove unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs from their
original containers.

Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, like used coffee
grounds or cat litter, and put them in impermeable, nondescript
containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags.

Throw containers in the trash.

Don't flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the accompanying
patient information says specifically it is safe to do so.

Return drugs to pharmaceutical take-back sites that allow consumers to
return unused drugs for safe disposal.
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