Advocates: Keep keen ear for prescription drug abuse lingo
Anti-abuse advocates are sounding the alarm on terms that young people are using as they try to disguise their abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Sixty-six percent of people 12 and younger who abuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends, analysts say, and the Longview Police Department and Partners in Prevention have collected 700 pounds of unwanted prescription pills since a drop-off box was added in the police station lobby more than a year ago.
Along with the community’s help in taking unused, unneeded pills out of reach from youth, Partners in Prevention Program Manager LaDawn Ingram said she’s taking a clear message to local parents, teachers and others — be aware, and don’t share prescription drugs, including inadvertently.
“If you have meds that you’re not taking anymore, get rid of them,” Ingram said. “If you have to take medicine, lock your meds up. Put them in a safe area, and don’t let people have access to it. Take inventory, count your meds, know how many pills you have, because if you call the pharmacy and you only have two pills and say you’re supposed to have two weeks’ worth of pills left, somebody is taking your meds.”
Ingram and Partners in Prevention Manager Holly Fuller recently attended a “Lock Your Meds” seminar in Austin and since have taken the message of anti-prescription drug abuse across the area.
In the past month, Ingram has spoken to eight groups, including Longview High School fitness instructors, library staff and health industry workers about the Lock Your Meds campaign. Next week, she’s set to speak to staff members of the Gregg County juvenile probation and city of Longview Public Works departments.
She’s also reached out to more than 9,600 students in public and private schools in Longview and Hallsville.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard of pharm parties,” Ingram said, “but it’s pharmaceutical parties — P-H-A-R-M parties — where admission to the party is actually bringing meds from home, and (the youths are) not reading the labels to see what it is.
“So they go, they dump it into a big bowl, then they pass out little plastic cups and they just take meds. … So they have no idea what they’re taking whether it’s going to be healthful or hurtful, and it’s very scary.”
There are other key words young people are using as they abuse prescription or over-the-counter drugs, employing nouns such as vikings and cotton — both intended to mask prescription drug names such as Vicodin and OxyContin.
“I heard kids talking about ‘all-stars.’ I’m like, ‘What’s an all-star?’ ” Ingram recalled. “They’re talking about a combination of drugs. They’re talking about ‘Skittles’ — that’s mixing meds. ‘Pancakes and syrup,’ that’s a combination of a sedative and codeine syrup. I’ve asked some of the teachers, and they’ve heard some of the kids saying this, so we need to know what they’re saying and what that means when we hear it.”
Parents or anyone interested in learning more about prescription drug abuse and prevention can call Ingram at Partners in Prevention at (903) 237-1019.