Producer’s Pen: Prescription For An “Oxy” Addict

You are sad, lonely and burning up inside and no one knows it. Your ability to fool those closest to you has convinced you that your secret is safe; but for how long? How long will it take for someone to see that you're sick and sinking fast? It's been more than a year and not a single peep out of your mom and dad. Who are you?

You are a teen addict.

But you are not alone, there are hundreds just like you living the life of an addict right under the noses of so many unsuspecting adults in San Diego County. You are a student enrolled in one of the most prestigious schools in the country. You surf, play water polo, cheer, star on your school's football team. You've mastered piano, Latin, and your grades sketch the expected rosy picture complete with an Ivy League or top ten collegiate degree on the horizon.

This all started one day when you thought one of the pills your parents picked up from the pharmacy could make you feel better, too. So, you slipped a pain pill out of the family medicine cabinet and swallowed it. Then you found another and another and did the same. You then discovered that breaking it up and snorting it made it work faster. Another friend with your same secret showed you how to light that pill up into a tiny flame on aluminum foil and smoke the fumes off of it. Nothing you've experienced has felt as good as this high, or so you thought. Now you're trapped and you're slipping into a darkness where the light seems beyond your reach.

You're a teen Oxycontin addict.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has your number. You are among an estimated 30 million people who used prescription drugs non-medically in 2009 alone, and when you look even closer you are actually counted among 1.5 million of those who are dependent on them.

You have become a statistic fueling a startling national trend.

In a 2009 survey, kids ages 12-17 were asked: “How fast can you get Rx drugs?' 4.7 million said within an hour and 8.7 million said within a day. This means there's a total of 13.4 million kids as young as 12-17 years old who can illegally obtain prescription drugs in a day or less. Those numbers were gathered by and are supported by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the 2009 National Survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

As a teen addict living in San Diego County you know your friends aren't in the dark about all of this. Some of them have been booked in Juvenile Hall and admitted they'd abused prescription drugs. Those kids made up 28 percent of all juveniles booked into the hall in 2009. (2009 San Diego Association of Governments Report).

Where you go to school makes a difference too. There's no denying that the rich kids are leading the pack when it comes to “Oxy.” San Dieguito Union High School District reported about 150-to-180 students in the school year 2009-2010 to the Recovering Education Alcohol Drug Instruction program (READI). Those numbers are holding.

And, there's this fact: What started as an “OXY” addiction transitions quickly to a “Heroin” addiction because even rich kids run out of money at some point.

You know kids are paying between $40 and $80 dollars per pill for Oxycontin.

It doesn't take long for your body to develop the kind of tolerance that keeps you craving the drug to the tune of 500 to 750 dollars per day. You can't stop. If you do, your bones ache, you can't sleep, you can't move inches from the bathroom without finding yourself in an awful mess.

You are a teenager who should be out enjoying La Jolla or Del Mar. You should be hooking up with your friends at the Heights and taking in a movie and some pizza.

You used to be a teen oxycontin addict.

You are now a teen heroin addict.

You need this community's help. We are here. It will not be easy, but the using has to stop. Take that first step, and discover how San Diego County is ready to walk the walk to sobriety with you.


DaVida Plummer VanderPloeg, KUSI Mgr., Newsroom Operations
Executive Producer: Oxy: What Your Kids Aren't Telling You!
KUSI 9/51, Tuesday, November 16, 2010 8p-10p

Categories: KUSI