Prescription drug use among teens on the rise - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Prescription drug use among teens on the rise


A new report shows Iowa's drug of choice remains alcohol.

But Iowa's Drug Control Strategy for 2009 shows some other trends.

Meth use - and the number of meth labs - continues to drop iowa.

Smoking is down -- thanks to the new Smoke-Free Air Act and cigarette tax increase.

But it also shows the newest and fastest growing form of substance abuse is prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

More than 27,000 Iowans entered treatment for alcohol abuse last year.

State drug agents report a spike in prescription drug cases.

Pain killers seem to be the favorite targets of thieves who steal from medicine cabinets and pharmacies.

And the report shows more and more young people are turning to prescription drugs.

"It's becoming an increasing problem and it's a problem about which many people are not aware. More people are concerned about their kids drinking, using meth," said Kathy Stone of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The state rolled out its latest statistics on drug use in Iowa.

Tops on the list?

Bringing more awareness to prescription drug addiction and use by teens.

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"The majority of all our investigations and seizures have been hydrocodone or a derivitive of that," said Kevin Frampton of the Division of Narcotics Enforcement.

The state is using public service announcements to raise awareness.

Locally, treatment centers are seeing more people seeking help for alcohol abuse and meth.

"Our client load has definitely not decreased. It seems like where there's a will, they're going to find it," said Marcia Wulfekuhle, Clinical Supervisor at Pathways Behavioral Services.

Local pharmacies say pseudoephedrine restrictions from the 2006 state law slowed down sales of certain over-the-counter medicines.

They say a statewide electronic prescription drug monitoring system would cut down on those trying to cheat the system.

"Patients will doctor shop in various cities and counties. You can't track them. It puts a huge burden on medical professionals," said Bob Greenwood, owner of Greenwood Pharmacy in Waterloo.

The state plans to increase awareness and education for teenagers.

They point to Iowa youth binge drinking at a rate much higher than the national average, that teenagers view prescription drugs as safe and are not aware of their potential for abuse, and that calls to the statewide poison control center to identify unknown pain pills have grown more than 700 percent in the last five years.

To see the full report, click here

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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