News 11 Special Report: Prescription for Addiction - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

News 11 Special Report: Prescription for Addiction

Here is News 11's Melissa Voetsch's report on this very dangerous drug:

It's one of the fastest growing drug addictions in the country: abuse of the prescription painkiller, oxycontin. Middle to upper class suburban high schools in our area seem to have an inordinate number of students who are addicted to the drug.

Oxycontin is a powerful painkiller, developed to treat severe pain. But its high is the same as that from a hit of heroine. For many, the drug is easy to get -- often just a trip to a relative's medicine cabinet will provide a supply.

A mother "trying to maintain my substance abuse and be the mom I wanted to be, brought me to my knees" and a teen who'd been "living to use oxy's but I was using to live," are both recovering from this powerful drug addiction that could have easily landed them in graves.

Rick Marvin runs a substance abuse program called Rusty's House, and he says his support groups are filled with local teens addicted to oxycontin. "This is an epidemic in our high schools right now," he says.

Why? Well, for one thing, peer pressure is a huge motivator for teens. "Everybody's doing it, so why not do it?" Marvin points out.

Samantha is a recovering addict who specializes in counseling girls. She says the support groups are 70-30 girls. "It's not a dirty drug. It's not heroine or crack. It's not so much a street drug as it is a pill, so it's more high society, I guess," she says.

Girls seem to be more susceptible to self-esteem issues that make the oxy-high an attractive escape. But many boys have those same issues. At least, Drew McIntire says he did, which is why he was drawn to the drug as a senior at a local Catholic boys high school.

"It's so powerful and so similar to heroine that people have no idea," he says. Drew soon switched to heroine to get high.

But oxycontin is expensive, and popping the pills doesn't give enough of a high, so addicts often resort to grinding it up and snorting it or injecting it.

"I couldn't maintain my life without it, but that's all I really wanted to do," Drew says.

An addiction to oxycontin is very hard to detect at first, which is what makes it so hard for parents to pick up on it. Kids are often functional addicts; it's only when they move to the harder drugs like heroine that it's more easily noticed.

The only help then is major intervention. "There's no other way to get around this. This is a heavy opiate. You need to go to detox. You need to get it out of your system and preferably a medical detox so you don't get sick. From there you need to go to a treatment center and learn how to stay clean and sober," says Samantha.

Even then, users often take many trips through rehab. That is, if users make it that far. It's easy to overdose and kill yourself on oxycontin, espeically when you're snorting it or shooting it. You can go into respiratory failure.

There is help available. Visit for information on a local organization.

Posted by KO


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