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Monday, March 20, 2017

What Do Teens and the Elderly Have in Common?

While writing The Case of the Meddling Mama (which is with my editor, btw), I touched on the topic of teens and drugs. A recent public service announcement on TV hit me harder than "This is your brain on drugs" with the fried egg from the 1980s.

Credit: The Partnership at Drugfree.org

I used the information in this video for a teacher in my story to explain to Alex one of the ways teens get hooked on drugs. Todd, a teen who trusts her, is worried that his buddy might be taking drugs. Here's the excerpt:

“I have a question, Steve. It’s about drugs at the high school.”
For a moment, he looked startled, then his countenance turned dark. “You’d think in a small town like this we could keep out drugs and the dealers.” He cocked his head. “Have you heard something?”
Not wanting to betray Todd’s confidence, I hedged. “Just what was in the paper about the girl dying of an overdose.”
“Yeah, that was bad. The parents are in denial, of course. Considering what I know of Julie, I think it was accidental. She might have flirted with the drug then discovered the hard way she couldn’t tolerate it.” He shrugged. “When will kids realize they aren’t danger-proof?”
Laraine leaned over and patted his arm. “Weren’t we like that back then? Nothing could hurt us. We were invincible.”
“Is this some new kind of drug?” I asked. “Or is it same-old, same-old? Like marijuana.”

“We’re seeing an increase in opioid addiction,” Steve said. “A parent, or grandparent, is prescribed an opioid for pain, and the kid sneaks a couple just to try it out. Likes the feeling and wants more. So they seek out other kids whose parents still have the meds, but aren’t taking them anymore. When that's not enough, they find a dealer.”

 The reason the video hit me hard is that I take prescription drugs for chronic back pain, and I have grandchildren who visit often. Granted they're still young, but it's a warning to me and anyone who has prescription pain killers to be careful.

My physical therapist gave me more disturbing news. The age group with the largest growing number of heroin addicts are the elderly. Doctors prescribe opioids for chronic pain. They also restrict the number of pills prescribed. The body becomes used to the amount of opioids and needs more to ease the pain. When the doctor won’t prescribe more, they turn to street drugs, and heroin is cheaper than oxycontin or morphine sulfate.

So, it isn't just teens who get hooked on drugs. But one thing we can all do is be careful where we keep our medicines.

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