Prescription Drug Abuse Growing Problem in Valley - 8 News NOW

Prescription Drug Abuse Growing Problem in Valley

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LAS VEGAS -- A report released Tuesday shows that prescription drug abuse among teenagers is skyrocketing and many parents are missing all the signs.

According to the study released by the Partnership at Drugfree.org, 81 percent of teens reported talking with their parents on the dangers of marijuana and alcohol.

However, just 14 percent said they had the talk on abusing prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, both used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Experts attending a conference in Las Vegas tried to come up with solutions to tackle the growing problem.

Metro Police narcotics Lt. Peter Boffelli said he has noticed a troubling trend.

"The younger generations right now, the gateway drug used to be marijuana back in the day, but now the gateway drug is basically the medicine cabinet in mom and dad's home," Boffelli said.

Prescription drug abuse was the focus at the conference of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, a national organization that provides education and training on the misuse, abuse and diversion of pharmaceutical drugs.

Law enforcement officers are learning that more young people, between 17 and 20 years old, are getting hooked on the drugs.

"Unfortunately, we have to talk about the overdoses that are involved with prescription drugs also, because that affects all of us," said Charlie Cichon, the association's executive director.

From Oxycontin to Percocet, they're learning about commonly abused pills.

"The pain medications are one of the biggest drugs of abuse," Cichon said.

When the pills are gone, users tend to chase the high.

"They resort to an illicit drug: heroin," Boffelli said. "Heroin will mimic the effects the pharmaceutical drug will give them."

Metro police officers are also facing a surge in synthetic drugs, such as spice and bath salts, adding to the dope problem in Las Vegas.

"The illicit drugs are always prevalent here in our city," Boffelli said. "We have everything from heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine. We have all of those."

For now, prescriptions-turned-recreational drugs are a staple of the modern drug dealer.

"It's becoming a bigger issue, and unfortunately, we don't see that issue going away anytime in the near future," Cochin said.

Metro Police has a whole team tracking pharmaceutical drug trafficking that is an ongoing problem from the tourist districts to neighborhoods across the valley.

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