Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin

In 2017, 16.5% of 12th graders admitted to misusing a prescription drug in their lifetime.  7.5% abused Adderall and 2.0% admitted to abusing Ritalin.

  • While many people believe that because medications are prescribed by a doctor they're safer to abuse than illegal drugs, prescription drug abuse can easily lead to addiction.
  • For some, this addiction directly leads to heroin abuse.
  • Within the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in pain reliever prescription abuse, with accompanying emergency room visits, heroin use, and overdose deaths.
  • Prescription opioids have chemical similarities to heroin; acting on the same brain systems and providing similar effects.
  • Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, Oxycodone, Morphine and Codeine are the most commonly prescribed opioids.
  • Often times, people start misusing pain relievers after they or a relative has been prescribed them due to a recent injury or surgery. Abusing opioids can lead directly to dependence.
  • Once the prescription is no longer medically available, addicts will seek a substitute to provide similar euphoric effects, leading to heroin addiction.

Facts and Figures

  • 1 in 15 people who take nonmedical prescription pain relievers will try heroin within the next 10 years
  • 90% of addiction starts in the teenage years
  • 2,500 teens abuse prescription drugs for the first time each day
  • 1 in 4 teens have misused or abused a prescription drug
  • Nearly half of young people who use heroin start by abusing prescription drugs

Recognizing Signs of Abuse/ Identifying Risks

  • Loss of interest in appearance, exercise and social activities
  • Cash, valuables or medication missing from home
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Changes in friends
  • Secretive behavior
  • Irregular schedule
  • Excessive or atypical sleeping patterns
  • Increase in snoring

Minimizing Risks

  • Store medications in a safe place
  • Keep track of your medicine – use a medicine inventory sheet
  • Never share your medications
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medicine (see local drop off location below)
  • Spend time getting to know your child’s friends and their parents
  • Talk to your kids about the risks of abusing prescription drugs
  • Ask your child's doctor plenty of questions when they're being prescribed any medication, especially after an injury

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

  1. Depressants: They include sedatives and tranquilizers used to reduce tension or make a person drowsy. Most often prescribed for sleep problems or anxiety.
  2. Opioids: Commonly referred to as painkillers, these drugs contain opium or opium-like substances and are used to relieve pain after an injury or dental procedure.
  3. Stimulants: Frequently used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity or narcolepsy, these drugs increase energy and alertness.
  4. Antidepressants: Psychiatric drugs that are intended to handle depression.

Prescription Drug Disposal Locations

  • Broome County Sheriff's Office, Administrative Lobby
    155 Lt. VanWinkle Drive
    Binghamton, NY 
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday
  • Tioga County Sheriff's Office, Main Lobby
    103 Corporate Drive
    Owego, NY
    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Monday - Friday
  • Chenango County Sheriff's Office, Administrative Lobby
    279 County Road 46
    Norwich, NY
    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Monday - Friday
  • Please remove all medication from plastic bottle and place in a sealed Ziploc bag

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.