Some kids are operating under the misconception that common over-the-counter cough suppressants like dextromethorphan and prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax are safer than illegal street drugs. "They are viewed as being FDA-approved and safe. And that is not true," Dr. Lewis Nelson of the NYU Langone Medical Center told LiveScience.com. "There's a misperception that because it's a prescription drug it's okay."
Misuse of prescription drugs can have serious health consequences. Overdoses of opioids (like OxyContin) can trick the brain into stopping one's lungs from working, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and though one develops a tolerance to the drug, one doesn't develop a tolerance to the respiratory effects it can have. Stimulants like Ritalin can cause a person's blood pressure to spike or can lead to heart problems when mixed with over-the-counter decongestants. And combining prescription or over-the-counter drugs with with depressants, including alcohol, can be lethal. Accidental drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of injury-related death among young people, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
Katie Granju lost her oldest son, Henry, to drugs on May 31. He was just 18, and had been battling his addiction for years; he died as a result of a brutal, drug-related beating. Tonight (Oct. 27) at 7 p.m., WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, will broadcast “Henry’s Story,” a half-hour long program about his life and death and how the aftermath of his brutal beating and drug addiction has affected his family (you can read the history at Katie's blog, Mamapundit.)
It's easy to assume that kids who are seeking out prescription and OTC drugs for recreational use are just hard-partying teens looking for a little fun. That may be how the addiction starts, but as Katie Granju points out, it's not how it ends. On Mamapundit, she writes:
By the last year or two of his short life – after Henry became involved with the prescription drugs that eventually killed him – Henry was physically and mentally addicted. Every day for him became a painful, depressing, terrible struggle to find a way to procure enough of the chemicals that day that would keep him from becoming very sick with withdrawal. He told me that once he started using the pills, he woke up every morning determined not to use that day, but went to sleep every night feeling like a complete failure.
The commerical-free program will air WBIT Channel 10 in Knoxville and is being livestreamed at 7 p.m. (EST) tonight at WBIR.com.