Adrenaline pumping, she grabbed the Global Positioning System off the unlocked car’s dashboard.  Under the cover of darkness, she ran back to her friend’s car thinking about how many pills she would get after pawning the stolen device for $70.

She needed up to seven pills a day to get high.  Without them, she couldn’t get out of bed; the pain and withdrawals were too severe.  The theft made her feel guilty, but she knew it was necessary to survive the struggle.  For Jane Doe*, the fight for money represented her nine month addiction to the prescription drug Roxicodone.

“It was a day to day thing,” Doe said.  “It was our mission everyday: ‘How are we going to get money; how are we going to feel better; how are we going to get a Roxy today’.”

Roxicodone, known as Blues or Roxies on the street, is an instant release version of the pain medication Oxycodone.  Doe, a former Boone student, began her addiction to the drug Nov. 2009, when she took pills from a relative’s bathroom.  Initially not knowing what the medication was, she and her friends shared 12 Roxies over a three-day span.

“When you first start doing [Roxies], you get itchy and nod out, but you’re very relaxed and warm,” Doe said.  “I didn’t like them at first because I got sick and threw up.”

Despite the initial side effects, Doe continued to abuse the medicine.  Her addiction worsened when she and a friend began to receive free pills from a drug dealer.  After taking Roxies everyday for a week she began to experience withdrawals when she was unable to obtain the drug.

“I woke up and had cold chills, was shivering, and all of my muscles hurt,” Doe said.  “But as soon as I did [a Roxie] I felt brand new again.”

Doe’s dependency increased to seven pills a day; priced at $10-$12 each, her habit was expensive.  She began to perform illegal activities such as returning stolen merchandise for store credit, which she later sold.

“I knew I was addicted because if I didn’t have [Roxies], I would be so sick.  I couldn’t eat, I was throwing up, sweating and didn’t want to move,” Doe said.

Doe’s addiction to Roxicodone is just one example of the increasing trend of abusing prescription medication.  This development has lead to both local and school ramifications.

•Sunshine State mocked for ‘pill mills’•

In April, Time described Florida’s pain clinics as “pill mills” responsible for the rise in prescription drug addiction.  With 115 pain-management clinics in Broward County alone, and all of the Top 25 Oxycodone- dispensing doctors located in Florida, this conclusion is feasible.

However, Sen. David Aaronberg has reservations about how to prevent access to these pills.

“It’s a delicate balance here,” Aaronberg told Time.  “You want to stop the pill mills.  At the same time you don’t want to stop legitimate patients from getting pain management.”

In June 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist signed the Florida Legislature’s bill to create a database that would log any pain prescriptions filed, allowing doctors and authorities to track those receiving excessive amounts of prescription drugs.  However, on Sept. 13, Sen. Mike Fasano explained that the system would not make the Dec. 1 deadline due to a lack of funding and a lawsuit regarding the database’s contract.

“This will not be easy to accomplish.  But I feel confident the money will be there,” Fasano told the Sun Sentinel.  “There’s no way the Legislature or a future governor will let this program go away.”

In an effort to clean up Florida’s struggle with prescription drugs, authorities have initiated drug sting efforts.  In July, 175 suspects were arrested in Tampa as a result of a drug operation known as “Operation Pill Popper II.”  According to the county sheriff Robert Alfonso, the suspects apprehended were in possession of or had sold over 100,000 Oxycodone pills, as reported in a Sept. 15 press release.  A drug possession charge carries a maximum of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement there have been 2,488 people die from prescription drug overdoses in the past year. There have been 100 deaths in Orange County alone.

Although Doe was never arrested, she came close when attending a party where cops raided an apartment and arrested several for possession of prescription pills.  She had left the apartment moments before the cops arrived, and the near arrest left her with a realization.

“I could feel my life crumbling apart,” Doe said.  “I knew I had a problem with Roxies, and I wanted help.”

Turning to family for support, Doe began a Suboxone regimen to slowly reduce and quit her addiction to Roxies.  Unlike Doe, many addicted to pain medications do not have the economic resources to afford the treatment for opioid addiction.  The difficulty of quiting prescription medication is yet another reason for the high number of addicts.

•School battles prescription drugs•

While Florida’s fight against prescription drug abuse is a local issue, it hits even closer to home on the Reservation.  The prevalence of drugs on campus remains unknown to principal Dr. Margaret McMillen.

“We have no way to know for sure,” McMillen said.  “There are students on campus who have been involved in drug activity. Just like every high school.”

To date, Boone has had a couple of drug-related incidents this school year.

“I’m not sure why more students are getting involved, but we are doing a better job of catching and identifying students with drugs,” McMillen said.

Students caught for drug abuse on campus face penalties as severe as expulsion for up to two years. The punishment varies upon the quantity and activity for which the drug is used; whether it be abusing the drug or distributing it.  Also, in many cases of drug use on campus, law enforcement is involved.

“Consequences are a deterrent for students,” McMillen said.  “The ideal solution is having a student make a good personal decision about health and safety.”

Yet, even with strict rules and expectations in place, students like Doe still used drugs at school.  Doe admitted to having snorted Roxies with a friend in a school bathroom.

To reduce the use of drugs at school McMillen insists on students taking advantage of various on campus resources, such as the SAFE Hotline (407-893-SAFE).

“They can walk through my door and we will put them in a program to get clean,” Janibelle Jackson, SAFE coordinator, said.  “[SAFE] can point them in the right direction.”

For Doe, help came from the support of her parents as she struggled with her addiction to Roxies.

“Looking back it was not worth it,” Doe said.  “I didn’t think it was affecting anyone but me, but now I know it was affecting my whole family.  It affected everything.”

For Doe to remain at her parent’s home, she must remain clean and abide by a curfew.

“Right now, I’m trying to get my mom’s trust back and get my life straightened out,” Doe said.

For those who are faced with a decision to start abusing Roxicodone, Doe has advice.

“Even if you want to try it, don’t,” Doe said.  “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  It’s such a serious drug and it will take over your life.”

Doe has been clean for four weeks.

* names withheld

By admin

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