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Local rehab clinic sees more teens getting hooked on prescription drugs

Teen opioid abuse (KFOX14/CBS4)

El Paso is seeing more teens addicted to opioids because drugs like Vicodin and Oxycodone are easy to get.

These types of drugs are not hard to get a hold of and parents are not aware about the signs of addiction.

Opioid based drugs are meant to make pain easier to deal with for people. But these drugs can take someone down a dark path one pill at a time.

Take it from recovering addicts Manuel Brown and Sean Baird.

"Our government, the pharmaceutical companies, you know. They all knew when they were prescribing opioid-based drugs people were inclined to abuse these prescriptions,” Manuel Brown, a recovering heroin addict, said, “It's just a shame and it's sad that it's gotten out of hand but in the truth, opioids in itself have been out of hand for a long time."

"You start popping pills which is a huge epidemic now. It used to just be people grabbing a needle and doing heroin,” Sean Baird, a recovering heroin addict, said. “Now it's pills leading you to heroin or heroin leading you to pills. Opiate is opiate right?"

The Health and Human Services Commission conducted a study of how many high school students in El Paso’s region have used these prescription drugs.

Roughly 19 percent of ninth-graders have used. 21.5 percent of sophomores have dabbled in the drug.

Juniors and seniors are both in the 22 percent range.

According to Aliviane, Inc., surveys have shown that one out of five high schools kids in the area say that they have used or misused prescription drugs.

Those numbers are seen by those in the classroom.

"It's just been common lately. You don't really think anything of it. It's just something you see now,” John Miranda, a student at Coronado High, said.

"It's kind of worrying and, I don't know, surprising,” Xander Carmona, another student at Coronado High, said. “When you look at El Paso, you don't think it's one of those communities. You think it's kind of a small and close-knit community so it's kind of weird."

Guillermo Valenzuela of Aliviane -- a local recovery center - said teens getting addicted to prescription drugs is on the rise in El Paso.

"The vast majority get them their medicine cabinet. A small majority of them get them from the internet,” Valenzuela said. “So we also have to be aware that we are a border community, we're just a few minutes from crossing the bridge and in Juarez the difficulty of buying them isn't as bad."

Valenzuela said this addiction is difficult for parents to pick up. There are very few physical signs.

Kids usually have a change in their behavior and sleeping habits.

"Parents would be unaware that they're kids are using drugs because they don't smell the smoke or the alcohol on their breath,” Valenzuela said. “Teen also believe prescription drugs are safe. If they are prescribed by a doctor, nothing's going to happen to me."

Valenzuela said parents have to talk to their kids about these drugs.

"Don't pressure them. Just keep a notice but not so to pressure them. In a way to cope with her or him,” Angel Mendoza, a Coronado parent, said.

"Talk to them and hopefully they understand. I stay away from medication myself,” Robert Main, a Coronado parent, said. “I don't take Tylenol or that sort of thing. You got to make sure your kids aren't relying on narcotics."

The number of teens being hooked on prescription drugs continue to grow, but there's still time to just say no.

"If they're approached by their peers, to run like their life depended on it,” Brown said. “Because in so many ways it does."

"It's stronger than you are. If you're already telling yourself that you're at that point where you're deciding that you're going to do it and you've already known, it was wrong - and you've overcome that wrong part and I'm just going to experiment ;it's already got you,” Baird said. “It's got you and you're done."

Valenzuela said the best way parents and teens can stop addiction from happen is by prevention and intervention.

You can call Aliviane at (915) 782-4000 for treatment.

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