By: Daniel Johnson, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor
“The Deal with Drugs” is a special series that looks at aspects of drug use and addiction.
Prescription medications, like Percocet; Vicodin; morphine and Fentanyl, are opiates that can induce sleep and alleviate moderate to severe pain. They can assist in the treatment of opium addiction. These drugs can also cause fatigue, depression, restlessness, anxiety, dry mouth, muscle and bone pain, confusion, severe respiratory depression, or cardiac arrest, according to Opiates.com.
Director of the Student Health Center Marti Brittenham said opiates are used for pain relief, but if misused can slow respiratory functions to fatal levels.
“If not taken as prescribed, a person could fall asleep and never wake up,” she said.
Culinary Arts major Martha Baldizan said she had used prescription pills recreationally, but stopped when she realized she had become addicted.
“When I first tried them, I enjoyed the high they gave. It was kind of like smoking weed, but without the munchies or paranoia,” she said.
She began chewing the pills instead of swallowing them whole so the opiates would enter her system faster, said Baldizan.
Brittenham said a danger of opiate use is that the body builds a resistance to the effects of the drug, so a user must ingest more each time to feel the same high.
Baldizan said she realized that that was not what she wanted her child to grow up with, and quit.
The quitting process was terrible, but it was worth it for her son, she said.
Nursing major Julia Maestas said that she used prescription pain killers for a pinched nerve in her shoulder.
“It worked well at reliving the pain and felt great to be able to get stuff done, but there were some side effects to the use of the drug,” she said.
Painkillers are important because they allow the body to focus more on fighting off infections and repairing itself than having to worry about relieving pain, she said.
“When you are in severe pain, all you can do is medicate and try to relax, so painkillers are important and useful as long as the user can handle the possible side effects and resist the development of addiction,” said Maestas.
She said she experienced mild withdrawal symptoms like nervousness and shakes once she stopped use.
Amphetamines stimulate the central nervous system by increasing certain chemicals in the body. This increases energy and alertness and is used to treat narcolepsy, Attention Deficit and Attention D e f i c i t Hyperactivity Disorders. These drugs can cause many problems including depression, seizures, dizziness and anorexia.
Brittenham said Adderall, Ritalin, and other ADD or ADHD drugs are perscription forms of speed and can harm the body if taken recreationally.
A u t o m o t i v e Transportation major Herman Jackson said he has ADHD and the pills have helped him to concentrate.
“I currently have all A’s in my classes, even though I have not been to school in over 20 years. I know side effects are possible, but I have not suffered from them,” he said.
If the pills were not available, handling school and other aspects of life would be difficult, said Jackson.
Brittenham said that the misuse of pills is making those in real pain or need of pills feel like they are stuck in a box.The state is doing more with rules and regulations when it comes to pills to try to keep them off the street, she said.
“People have to sign contracts, as well as submit to random drug screens and pill counts, to assure that the pills are not being misused,” said Brittenham.
“The most abused drugs are found in someone’s medicine cabinet and not out on the street,” said Brittenham.