Cops warn of rising prescription drug abuse
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News February 15, 2013 3:24PM
Assortment of pills
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:20AM
The use of prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons is more prevalent locally than people realize, according to Kane County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Feiza.
“Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs in Kane County because they are easy to get and people think they are safe,” Feiza said. “It starts in high school and goes all the way to people in their 50s and 60s.”
Local law enforcement and special agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Unit this week gave a two-hour presentation in the Kaneland High School auditorium to raise awareness on the role parents have in prevention.
The law enforcers said teens mistakenly think pharmaceuticals are safer than “street drugs” because they are obtained from a doctor, pharmacy, friends and family.
Some of the common ways of getting medications among youth – painkillers, stimulants or depressants – for nonmedical use is through the sharing, selling or buying of legitimately prescribed medications, sometimes obtained from the home medicine cabinet.
It’s not uncommon for some teens to use prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications for their first high, the experts said. It’s also not uncommon for other kids to hear from friends that taking doctor-prescribed medications meant for an individual diagnosed with attention deficit disorder can help them study, they said.
One Kaneland parent asked if there are issues at Kaneland High School, because she has a child who will be a freshman next year.
“Kaneland has taken a zero-tolerance approach to drugs,” said School Resource Officer Keith Gardner of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.
Gardner said although he cannot speak to specific cases, medications have to be administered through the nurse’s office per a physician’s orders. He said their primary goal is to educate rather than make arrests, but the repercussions of an offense are clear.
“One pill in their possession is a felony charge dealt through the Juvenile Court system. My job is to educate so they learn through their mistakes. Most drug offenses are a level IV which results in a 10-day suspension,” Gardner said.
DEA Special Agent Will Taylor said the abuse of prescription drugs has become a national epidemic.
“2009 was the first year we saw more deaths from prescription drugs than car fatalities,” Taylor said.
Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said there is a misconception that drug use and prescription drug abuse in the county tend to be in the bigger cities of Aurora and Elgin.
“Prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse is more prevalent in the more affluent areas of St. Charles and Geneva,” Perez said.
Parents were directed to the DEA’s websites to obtain information: www.DEA.gov; www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com; www.justthinktwice.com or download a booklet titled “Prescription for Disaster – How Teens Abuse Medicine.”
Parents also were urged to properly dispose of unused medications in a drop-off box at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office or at their local police departments.