Prescription drug abuse climbing among teens, young adults - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prescription drug abuse climbing among teens, young adults

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November 16, 2007

Albany-  Criminal charges could come as early as Monday in the death of a 21-year-old Lee County College Student.

Jarrod Wills was found dead in his Fussell Road home Saturday morning. His friends told police he took Xanax and drank alcohol. In fact, the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit says prescription drug abuse among teens in south Georgia has tripled in the last several years.

On the streets, teens call them footballs or bars, but this has nothing to do with the big game. It's not a game at all, it's prescription drug abuse and the drug is Xanax. The number of south Georgia teens abusing prescription drugs has tripled in the last two years.

"If you go in any house in the United States you're going to find some sort of prescription medication whether it's antibiotics or pain pills or something given for hypertension, whatever," said Col. Duane Sapp, Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit says teens have "Pharm parties," where a bowl of prescription pills is available to anyone. That's dangerous enough, but when these drugs are mixed with alcohol, it can be deadly.

"It's not like one and one is two, it's like one and one is twelve," said Sapp.

"They can slow breathing they can slow your heart rate and alcohol is also an CNS (central nervous system) depressant so combining the effects of the two produces and additive affect, it can be very dangerous," said Ashley Kunkle, U-Save-It Pharmacist.

It's what the GBI has said happened in Jarrod Wills' case. They're still waiting on toxicology reports. Pharmacists say, it's why you should never take a prescription drug not prescribed to you, a dosage that's fine for one may not be fine for another.

"A lot of people build up a tolerance to these drugs and if you do not have a tolerance to that drug and you take it it may cause potential harm to you that it wouldn't cause someone else that had been taking it for a long time," said Kunkle.

Unfortunately, drug agents say they don't know where teens are getting their hands on these drugs. They say there's too much to be prescription fraud. They're either getting it over the Internet, on the streets, or possibly from your home. That's why they're cautioning parents to keep prescriptions locked up.

Proper disposal of remaining un-used prescriptions can help curb drug abuse. ADDU says, you should crush old pills and mix them with your regular trash.

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