Prescription drug abuse rising in Arizona

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Several reports indicate that prescription drug abuse is growing and it's second only to marijuana usage. 3TV shows viewers what’s being done to fight this next wave of drug abuse.

“I think because it's legal, they have the stigma that it's ok, but they don't realize is the drug will take over your life,” Liz Waynick said.
 
Waynick said Xanax was controlling her life. The drug was prescribed by her doctor to treat anxiety.
 
“It was making me feel better, but I was depending strictly on a drug as opposed to any other method that could help me,” Waynick continued.

She was addicted and needed help. Waynick is just one of seven million Americans abusing prescription drugs a year. They include everything from Vicodin, Oxycontin to Demerol.
 
“This drug isn't illegal,” Amy Rex said.  “It's almost has a cache among people that you can use prescription drugs. It's prescribed by a doctor, it can't be all that dangerous and it's very easily available.”

Rex who is with the Maricopa County Criminal Justice Project said prescription drug abuse is rising, especially among inmates surveyed at the jail. A new report from the Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network shows there's an increase among Non-violent white male property offenders.

“Starting in 2009, the first quarter January through March it jumped and then it jumped again,” Rex said. “In all four quarters of 2009, it jumped from about zero to 1% to 2% to about 20% usage.”

Rex said those numbers are alarming. And the trend isn't just on the rise in the jails, but among Arizona teens. One out of four has reportedly abused a prescription pain reliever which is double the national average.

“I think it will get higher and again until we figure out a way to tackle it,” Rex said.

Some suggestions to tackle the growing problem are education, communication between parents and teens plus safeguarding medications.

“Educational effort on the part of the school system, providers and pharmacies and I think all three have to work simultaneously and in a consorted manner to achieve this,” Dr. Ravi Chandiramani said.

Chandiramani is with Journey Healing Centers.  It’s a holistic residential treatment program for people like Waynick battling drugs and alcohol.

“As we've gone through the years here, I see more and more prescription drug abuse and that's all kinds of prescriptions,” Chandiramani said.

The doctor went on to say that treatment is key in getting people better. Waynick, who has been clean for more than a year, hopes her story will help others not go down the same route. 
  
 “You have to want to have help, and if you want to take the easy way out and depend on a drug you can, but the drug will take over your life,” Waynick said.

More information on Arizona Arrestee reporting Information Network.
-For more information on Journey Recovery Centers call 1-866-535-8962.