The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Finding ways to dull the pain

Students take medications unnecessarily, unprescribed

Nowadays, pharmacies and medicine cabinets are not the onlyplaces you can find the little orange pill containers prescribed bydoctors.

On college campuses students are experimenting with painkillersas a way to get high and unload from a stressful day.

“They do it to have a good time and relax atparties,” first-year Stephanie Martin said. She said she hasknown students who abused painkillers.

Some of the common painkillers include Xanax, Vicodin, Valium,Hydrocodone and Tylenol with Codeine. In certain instances, theiruse can turn to addiction.

Addiction is a misusage of the drug by taking it without theauthorization of a doctor, or using the drug when it is no longerneeded as prescribed.

“Students keep taking painkillers after their injury ishealed because they start depending on them,” Martinsaid.

In many cases people who have become addicted to painkillers arein denial that they have a problem, and they rationalize theiruse.

Vicodin produces a euphoric feeling, relaxing both the body andthe mind, as well as relieving pain. Vicodin addiction is extremelycommon among prescription drug users, most likely because it isreadily prescribed to relieve pain from surgery and/or injury.

“Vicodin addicts find that they can no longer functionnormally without the drug. … It produces an effect in themthat they feel they cannot live without,” the Web site forthe Spencer Recovery Center’s states. The Web site alsostates that students suffering from an addiction to Vicodin will”start looking to outside sources for more prescriptions andare willing to go to great lengths to get more drugs.”

“Students usually get them from friends who haveprescriptions,” junior Brock Blue said. Blue also has knownstudents who have misused painkillers.

Just like any other drug, students usually do not consider theconsequences of abusing painkillers. Over time, the side-effectswill become more noticeable and more harmful.

“Over-the-counter painkillers work well for most people,but ignoring the directions and misusing them can result in severe,even lethal, side effects,” Lauren Neergaard, a reporter forAssociated Press, wrote.

At first the user will experience effects such as irregularityin heart functions, nausea and dizziness. As use grows, the effectscan also come in the form of hallucinations, vision problems andconstant confusion.

“A lot of students enjoy these side effects,”first-year Justo Sol said. “They are able to forgetthemselves and their worries.”

During the last stages of addiction, users have been known to beunable to control bodily functions and this use can sometimesresult in coma or death.

Instead of taking painkillers as opposed to other drugs andalcohol, they are sometimes taken together to increase thehigh.

According to the Associate Press report, more than 56,000emergency room visits a year are attributed to acetaminophen, anarcotic used to relieve mild to moderate pain, overdoses.

The SMU Memorial Health Center rarely sees cases of students whoare addicted to painkillers.

“We see painkiller-related problems around once persemester,” co-medical director Nancy Merrill said.

The health center is efficient at keeping track of records andmaking sure that students do not have more drugs than what isprescribed.

“Each student has a flow chart that shows what medicationand drugs they are taking,” Merrill said. “It isconvenient for us and keeps the students safe.”

According to Merrill, it is easy to recognize students who are”drug-savvy” that come into the health center lookingfor drugs.

“They ask by brand name and know the specific dosage thatthey want,” she said.

There is a stamp that the nurses put on the charts to indicateif there is any possibility of an overdose, or if one has alreadyoccurred, to give a heads up to other nurses and doctors.

“The pharmacy has caught students who have tried toreceive numerous prescriptions of painkillers from different drugstores and sources,” Merrill said.

The most common drug that the health center deals with isPromethazine with Codeine. Health Center employees are alsofamiliar with the term “roboing,” which is whenstudents drink excessive amounts of Robitussin.

“To prevent students from the dangers of painkillers, wegive them a warning and prescribe only a limited amount,”Merrill said.

Students who exhibit a problem are referred to the mental healthdivision at the health center.

“People need to know what’s in their medicines andthen use them properly,” Dr. Anthony Temple of McNeilConsumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals said in Neergaard’sarticle. “If they dose properly and use it properly, theseare safe and effective medicines.”

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