More Young People Abusing Prescription Drugs

More Young People Abusing Prescription Drugs

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Tonya Papanikolas reportingMore and more drug abuse in Utah stems from prescription painkillers. And it's not just happening with adults.

Treatment centers are seeing more high school and college age addicts.

21-year-old Kasi Rasley has been off drugs for 18 months. But in her teens, she used ecstasy, cocaine, and her favorite... prescription drugs.

Kasi Rasley/ Former Drug Addict: "My main drug of choice was pills, and it was everywhere at school. I could get it anywhere I wanted."

Rasley says she used strong painkillers like Percocet, Lortab and most frequently Oxycontin, which empowered her-- temporarily.

Kasi Rasley: "You feel worthless, and I had to keep using so I didn't feel worthless. And while I was high, I didn't."

Addiction counselors say more and more young adults are abusing prescription drugs. In 2003, Ogden's Alcohol and Chemical Treatment Center saw 5 young patients. But last year, that number jumped to 35.

Doug Weaver/ Addiction Counselor, ACT Center: "There was a huge influx last year. A lot of people have been getting into it in the schools, during high school. It's kind of like the cocaine of the 80's now."

Laurie Ericksen/ Former Drug Addict: "Justifying the use of pills is a lot easier, because you're getting them from a physician."

Counselors say availability is another reason prescription drugs are so popular. Addicts always seem to find ways around a doctor's prescription.

Laurie Ericksen: "I had a headache any time I needed to have a headache. I had a backache any time I needed to have a backache."

Kasi Rasley: "You steal them from your parents. You steal them from other people."

Doug Weaver: "There's people that do sell it. You can get it through the internet."

For Rasley and Laurie Ericksen, treatment at the ACT program may have saved their lives. There, they received detox in private medical rooms, attended group therapy sessions and worked with a counselor.

Kasi Rasley: "He showed me all the bad things I did. But then he showed me what a good person I was."

Leaving Kasi with a new self-image she liked, for the present and the future.

The ACT center has just begun a new treatment program designed specifically for 18 to 22-year-olds. It allows young adults to be around people their own age.

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