Prescription drug abuse growing nationally and locally

The rate of prescription drug abuse has been on the rise not just in Lane County, but nationally said Emily Buff Bear, community health analyst for Lane County Public Health.

To help raise awareness about prescription drug abuse and to decrease the number of expired or unwanted prescription drugs in the community, the county health department scheduled a Prescription Drug Take Back event for Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The idea came from various conversations between Lane County Public Health and local law enforcement.

“I think this has been going on for the last nine years,” Bear said. “Nationally, they weren’t going to do an event this year, so we decided to do one anyways at the local level.”

There is a whole list of items being collected, such as vitamins and over the counter drugs, though Bear isn’t entirely sure what has been collected in the past, because the federal government has coordinated the event. This is the first year local law enforcement is running the program.

The county health department said prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused substance in Lane County.

On college campuses, prescription drug abuse is more common. The National Council on Patient Information and Education revealed about one in four college students has illegally used prescription drugs, which friends or fellow students offered them.

Alex Biedul, University of Oregon senior, said he received an Adderall prescription at the age of 20.

“I was prescribed 15 mg extended releases to help me focus in class and especially for tests,” Biedul said.

Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are central nervous system stimulants that affect the brain and nerves that contribute to impulse control. When used correctly, it helps treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but when used incorrectly, it can lead to addiction or serious side effects on the heart.

Biedul’s doctor, who prescribed him Adderall, retired at the end of last year, leaving him without his medication. The only way for him to continue treatment, he had to go to southern California to meet with a new doctor in a certain time frame, but since he attends school in Oregon, it was too difficult.

“I just have to wait until I go home again,” he said.

Freshman Aolani Onatah admits she had no idea what Adderall was until she came to college in the fall.

“I think it increases attention ability,” Onatah said. “I know some people use it to do homework.”

Bear said many people think prescription drugs are less harmful and that’s a problem.
“We want to make sure people know they are just as dangerous.”

Drop box locations will be at the Coburg and Springfield Police Department’s, the Junction City Fire Station, the Santa Clara Fire Department and the Oakridge Rays Food Place. Sheriff’s and volunteers will be around to answer questions and at the end of the event, local law enforcement will transfer the unwanted drugs to Covanta, outside of Salem, to incinerate them.

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Ally Brayton

Ally Brayton