Police: ‘1 in 5 high schoolers will abuse prescription drugs, opioids’

Opioids (NBC News)

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas law enforcement officials are warning parents about teenage prescription drug and opioid abuse.

“They are everywhere, everywhere,” said Maize Police Officer James Wiggins.

Ofc. Wiggins, who is also a drug recognition expert, said prescription drug and opioid abuse in on the rise, particularly in local high schools.

“Your narcotics and opiods, they are easily accessible, especially to kids,” Wiggins said. “Prescription drugs do not discriminate on any, in any way at all.”

Wiggins added prescription drugs can be found on the streets, at school and at home.

“Mostly parents or adults are prescribed these pain medications for injuries they have had in the past or temporary injuries. Often people do not secure those items so they cannot be picked up or taken by younger people and they will take those and that’s where the problem is. They give them to their friends or things along those natures,” he explained.

Wiggins said one in five high school students will misuse opioids or prescription drugs. He said once kids get their hands on the drugs, they will often continue the habit as an adult. KSN asked Wiggins to describe some of the symptoms of prescription drug abuse.

“You will find that they are dissociating themselves with some older friends and maybe making new friends now, a difference in their behavior, maybe they are more withdrawn. If they are an athlete or something along those lines maybe that’s not working out for them anymore,” he said. “The best advice I can give to parents is make sure you are monitoring that and keeping your prescription medications locked up, so they aren’t accessible to everyone in the home.”

The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) is actively working to tackle the prescription drug and opioid crisis. KDADS recently awarded $3.1 million in grant funding to four mental health and rehabilitation centers in Kansas to develop and provide opioid misuse prevention, treatment and recovery support services for the purpose of addressing the opioid abuse crisis.

“Opioid addiction is becoming of increasing concern in our state,” KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said. “Kansas is the 16th highest opioid-prescribing state in the nation, an indicator of this growing epidemic. These grants will allow us to get ahead of the curve and address this critical public health issue before it worsens.”

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