Cop Corner

By Officer Ken McNeill
Pleasanton Police Department
 
A growing number of high school students are making some very bad choices when it comes to drugs. The abuse of the powerful opiate OxyContin is on the rise. One recent study showed that at least one out of every 20 high school seniors has tried OxyContin. (OxyContin is the brand name of the generic drug oxycodone.)
 
The problem is that OxyContin is a powerful pain reliever in the same class as morphine and heroin and requires a prescription. It is a felony to possess it otherwise. Unfortunately, it's become an increasingly popular choice among young people who want to get high. When taken incorrectly, doctors say OxyContin is highly addictive and dangerous. The drug has a numbing effect. Students say it makes them feel completely relaxed. They say it takes away worries, anxiety and stress. But people can become tolerant to it and therefore, require greater and greater amounts to achieve the same effect.
 
OxyContin is prescribed as a time-release tablet, but students who abuse it are finding ways to bypass the pill's enteric coating. It is unbelievably dangerous to release the full effect of the pill all at once.
 
How do students get the pills?
A single OxyContin pill can sell for anywhere from $30 to $60. Word gets around campus about who’s selling the pills and who’s buying. The sellers can get pills from several different places. Unfortunately, one of the main resources can be right from their own homes.
 
A large percentage of the drugs found on the street come from mom and dad’s medicine cabinet. Roughly 63 percent of teenagers nationally say they get these meds from their own homes or their friends' homes, according to a recent Rockefeller University study. Other sources include Mexico, where the pills can be bought like any over-the-counter medicine or an outside, unknown individual (dealer) will supply the drug to a student to sell on campus.
 
What can parents do?
As a parent, you need to be vigilant in guarding your children against this and other dangerous drugs. Please understand that no illegal drug is safe, whether it’s OxyContin or even that green leafy substance so many want to become legal in California.
 
Ask your child if they believe students at their school abuse illegal drugs. Have they ever faced a situation where they had to make a choice about using something illegal? Explain the dangers to them. OxyContin can become highly addictive and can lead to a sudden drop in grades, lethargy and loss of interest in things they are involved in. And because the pills are so expensive, users begin stealing so they can sell the stolen items to get money.
 
Users can also display the following physical symptoms:
  • Slow breathing (respiratory depression)
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Small pupils
Ultimately, because continued use creates a need to take more of the drug to get the same initial high, addictions can lead to the user taking dangerous amounts of the drug, leading to overdose and death.

If you think your child may be involved in drug use, you are encouraged to talk to him or her about it. If you feel the need, it is your right as a parent to look through your child’s belongings, looking for anything that causes you concern.
 
If you have questions, feel free to call and talk to a police officer. Call us at the Pleasanton Police Department at 931-5100.

You can contact Officer Ken McNeill at 931-5233 or kmcneill@ci.pleasanton.ca.us.

Posted Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011