Pills: The new pot?


Percocet, Xanax, Vic Odin, Adderall.  Those are just a few of the names of prescription drugs that have made their way on college campuses all across the United States.  Just this past August, the Pennsylvania  Attorney General’s Office announced that its agents had arrested 25 people tied to a major drug ring that sold prescription pills at Temple University and other local universities.  Many can remember when marijuana a.k.a. “pot” was the main recreational drug used among college students, second to only alcohol.  But it’s a new day and prescription drugs are making their way all around college campuses near you.

So why are prescription drugs so popular amongst colleges and universities in the United States.   I stopped by Professor Jan Hanselman’s Social Welfare class to chat with them about the prescription drug epidemic and some of them had answers to why pills are so commonly used on campuses.  Melissa Gray, a student at CCC, said that “Pills are very addictive. “ At one point, she was prescribed Oxycodone, saying that the doctors were, “just giving them to me like candy.”  Many doctors prescribe pain medications as a quick and easy way to relieve their patient’s painful symptoms but won’t do a thing to help those patients get off those medictions when they become addicted.  But some feel that it is up to the patient to be safe and not sorry.  Shayna Loatman, a CCC student, shared “it depends if you’re abusing them when you’re prescribed.  They tell you what to take and when to take them.”

However, some people ultimately end up hitting rock bottom.  I spoke to a fellow CCC student and boy, did she have an unfortunate experience with prescription drugs.  For the sake of keeping her name anonymous, let’s call her “Sandy”.   Sandy started using pills at the tender age of fourteen.  “I started with prescription pills, and alcohol, and weed all at the same time.  The pills came first.  They were the most easily accessible.  My mom had back surgery and someone told me that I should try one of her Percocets.  So I did.  Then I started stealing her Percocets and before I knew it, I had a prescription pill problem.”

Some may think that no consequences can come from recreational drug use, but Sandy’s story will show you the dark road popping a couple of pills from your mother’s medicine cabinet can lead you down.   Eventually, Sandy started abusing other types of pills, “Xanax, Adderall, anything I could get my hands on,” she said of her addiction.  Asked if there were any gateway drugs that led to her pill addiction, sandy said, “alcohol came first, and the weed, maybe around the same time. “  And Sandy was only a freshman in high school when all of this was taking place.  “I failed my freshman year in high school and they put me in alternative school because they found out that I was selling pills.  Someone had actually overdosed on some of the pills I sold them and I ended up dropping out of school when I was 16 years old.”

So if marijuana and alcohol led to pills, what did pills lead to?  Sandy explained how things got much worse due to her pill addiction. After she dropped out of high school, another friend introduced her to cocaine and heroin when she was 18.  At that point, Sandy recalled losing “EVERYTHING.” Many students  think that swallowing pills is an easy way to ease pain, or even stay awake and alert in order to finish a research paper or study for finals.  But the truth is, that using prescription drugs can alter, if not ruin your life.  Be smart.  Just say no.  The consequences of abusing prescription drugs just aren’t worth it.  Professor Jan Hanselman also teaches a Drug Counseling course here on campus.  She will refer you to a professional drug counseling center.  If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs, feel free to contact her.  She will not turn you away and will keep everything confidential.  Her office is located in the Enrollment building, in the Advisement office.  She can be reached at 856-691-8600 ext 372.


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