ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Category: Prescription drugs

Painkiller Abuse a Game of 'Whac-a-Mole'

When OxyContin, a drug of choice for middle class kids, was reformulated to prevent the pills from being crushed for snorting or injecting to achieve a more intense high, resourceful drug abusers switched to another powerful prescription pain killer, Opana. Now the manufacturer of Opana is changing its formula to make it harder to abuse. In a USA Today article, Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Mineola, N.Y. is quoted as saying, "It's almost like a game of Whac-A-Mole. You get a handle on OxyContin; they switch to Opana. My guess is it will be something new tomorrow." What’s the next medicine to rise and fall for addictive cravings?

Click to read the USA Today article, Opana Abuse in US Overtakes OxyContin.  For more information on prescription drug use and abuse, click here.

Only as Directed

Thank God for modern medicines and the relief from disease and suffering they provide. Palliative care and pain reduction have been important treatment goals of doctors during the past decade. This was in response to their previous reluctance and holding back painkillers, fearing that they might make their patients dependent on these drugs. However, in the past few years we have seen the downside of making these drugs so readily available and the consequences of their getting in the wrong hands. In a recent study reported on by Medscape Medical News, researchers at the University of Maryland at Baltimore noted a 291% increase nationwide in prescription opiate overdoses since the early 90’s. The primary increase was noted with Caucasian women. Their drug of choice? Oxycodone. “Use only as directed”, the tagline for some of the TV commercials marketing medicines, ends up being good advice for getting the benefits of modern medicines. But, this works only if we take them exactly as directed by the prescribing medical professional, as opposed to listening to the sensory pleasure-seeking part of us.

Nikki’s story shows how recreational prescription drug use can take a serious and tragic turn.

Not your study buddy

College was challenging, to say the least. My friends and I struggled to juggle our classes alongside work and extracurricular activities responsibilities. We became desperate to make the best use out of every second in the day. While I resorted to sipping coffee to get through my evenings, some of my friends were drawn to the underground illicit trade of prescription pills.  To be frank, this wasn’t exactly an underground phenomenon at my college. Adderall and Ritalin were purchased in the hallways of our dorms!

At first, non-prescription drug usage was so common that few entertained the notion that it could be potentially dangerous. In my psychopharmacology classes, though, I learned about some of the many ways in which stimulants affect the body. Adderall and Ritalin, when used incorrectly and by those who don’t medically need them, have been shown in some cases to cause increased blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, seizures, hair loss, and even sudden death!

After a few months of taking these pills, addiction is almost inevitable: the brain re-structures itself and becomes increasingly tolerant to that drug’s effects. As a result, that person has to consume a higher dosage to feel similar effects and then crashes when he doesn’t get it, leaving the person dragged out for days on end.

Addiction to amphetamines completely changed my friends who got into using them. They were miserable most of the time and very irritable. They would do pretty much anything to get these pills. Some attempted to fake symptoms of ADHD so that doctors would write them their own prescriptions. Others began selling them and other drugs so that they could afford their own habits.

The irony was that addiction made these friends struggle even more in school. They were no longer able to sleep at night and, as a result, could not concentrate on their assignments. Their health began to deteriorate and they began missing classes.  Some even had to take leaves of absence or drop their classes so that they could enter recovery programs to address their addictions.

Watching friends struggle with addictions has reinforced our belief that illicit drug use is not the way to go. Our advice to college freshmen; avoid these illicit stimulants. It’s better to fight your way through exhaustion than wind up with a serious health problem! - R.L.

Read more about prescription drugs or stimulants. To find help for yourself or a friend, check out these resources.