Photo: The Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA Tactical Diversion Unit on Feb. 13, provided a presentation to staff, faculty and parents on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The event took place in the Kaneland High School Auditorium. Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez talks about the perscription drug disposal program. Photo by Kimberly Anderson
by Mary Parrilli
KANE COUNTY—Members of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and DEA presented a seminar on the illegal use of prescription drugs on Feb. 13 at Kaneland High School.
A similar presentation was held at Harter Middle School about one year ago. Due to some current issues at KHS, Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez wanted to host another event—this time at the high school level.
“I’m not saying that there is an overwhelming prescription-drug-use problem at the high school, but we wanted to educate parents and Kaneland staff about the increasing use of prescription drugs among high school and college-aged kids,” he said. “We wanted to teach parents how to make their homes safer.”
Perez, two Kane County Sheriff’s deputies and three DEA agents from Chicago presented to parents and faculty a few choice topics on the illegal use of prescription drugs.
“One thing that parents need to realize is that just because a drug has a prescription, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe,” Perez said.
Perez explained that most painkillers are opiates, which are highly addictive. Kids often take them thinking that it will give them a buzz, not realizing that they are addictive substances. Many times, the use of prescription painkillers leads to the use of heroin.
One of the easiest ways that kids can get a hold of these drugs is via their parents’ prescriptions, Perez said. Often times, a parent has a surgery, or is prescribed something, and then doesn’t finish the whole bottle. In some instances, the kids then steal from the parents’ prescription, and either take the pills themselves, or sell them for anywhere between $20 and $30 per pill. There are even some high school kids who attend various open house events, and go through medicine cabinets, grab what they can, and then turn around and sell the pills.
“It’s not just painkillers, though—high school and college kids, in order to stay up all night or cram for tests, often use Aderall, which is a stimulant,” Perez said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the ones who really need the drug for their ADHD.”
According to Perez, some kids even host or attend “pharma-parties,” where everyone brings a grab bag of pills and places it in a big bowl, which then acts like a candy bowl, free for the taking. Kids often times don’t even know what drug they’re ingesting.
At the presentation, the DEA members handed out prescription drug identification charts to aid parents in the discovery of pills.
Perez and his team discussed ways to prevent the illegal diversion of pharmaceuticals. The biggest thing that people can do is simply not make them available. If you get a prescription, keep it hidden or locked up, away from your kids.
“When parents leave their medications out in the open, this creates what we call a “crime of opportunity,” the same as if you left your iPod sitting in your car, in view, and someone stole it,” Perez said.
It is also important to dispose of the pills properly. Perez doesn’t recommend flushing the pills down the toilet, as they may contaminate the water supply. He does recommend using the Sheriff’s Office prescription drug drop box, located at the office, 37W755 Route 38 in St. Charles, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. All you have to do is drop your pillbox into the drop box. The DEA then picks up the pills and takes them to an incinerator to dispose of them properly.
“I strongly recommend and encourage people to use (the drug drop box). It is the safest and easiest way for prescription drug disposal,” Perez said.
About 15 people showed up to the event on Wednesday. Perez said he was a little disappointed with the lack of participation by the Kaneland community.
“I thought the presentation went very well for those of whom came by,” he said. “I just really want parents to be educated about this, since prescription drugs are the fastest rising in drug choice for young adults and teenagers.”