Sheriff: New teen drug problem starts in medicine cabinet
September 27, 2013
Carson Sheriff Ken Furlong says with meth use under attack from all angles, a new wave of drug abuse has emerged for teens and 20-somethings.
And it starts in the medicine cabinet at home.
"So many people get medicines they don't need and they end up stacking up in their medicine cabinets," he said.
Worse yet, Furlong said, he ties the abuse of prescription drugs directly to burglaries by teens seeking the drugs and the rising use of heroin by those aged 16-25.
"Since 2005-2006, we've really been attacking methamphetamine use," he said.
He said misuse by teens such as the "cheerleader trying to stay skinny" is down.
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But, he said, "low and behold, that new surge in drug use is heroin."
Sgt. Brian Humphrey of Carson's Special Enforcement Team, said it isn't just the prescription medicine in their parents' home. He said some of the more clever teens do such things as go door-to-door selling something like magazines. They especially target seniors who often also have prescriptions for pain and other problems.
"They ask if they can go to the bathroom and later that day, people realize their medicine is gone," he said.
Special targets are pain killers and mood altering drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin.
Humphrey also tied prescription drug use to the capital's growing teen heroin problem.
"I've talked to a lot of kids and not had a single heroin bust that did not mention the medicine cabinet," he said. "In the last few years, heroin has come on strong here in Carson."
He said many times, the teens get the prescription pills from a relative who doesn't realize that the teen they think they are helping actually has a serious drug problem.
Humphrey said numerous times during a heroin bust, prescription drugs show up.
"I can't tell you how many times in one pocket you pull out a handful of pills," he said. "I see it all the time."
He said just last week, they arrested an 18-year-old on charges of selling heroin.
"He had two needles, a spoon, heroin balloons and almost $3,000 in cash in his underwear," Humphrey said.
Furlong said the trend is extremely dangerous.
"When we thought heroin, we used to think skull and bones," he said. "Heroin users today don't think that but that's what heroin is, it's the beginning of your death."
Humphrey said those teens don't see heroin the same way as their parents.
"They have a different mentality that it's not as bad as meth," he said. "It's from a plant."
Humphrey said the good news is meth use among the younger crowd may be on the wane, that officers are seeing 30-40 year old users.
"When we come across the 20-25 year olds, it's heroin, it's pills," he said.
The subject of prescription drugs came up at the state level as well as State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, joined California counterpart Sen. Ted Lieu in urging operators of the Internet's Craigslist to buy drugs such as Oxycontin without a prescription.
The two in August joined forces to demand information from Purdue Pharma on doctors who over-prescribe those drugs.
They called on Craigslist to support their efforts to "eliminate the ability to purchase drugs without a prescription using the Internet."