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Local opioid misuse on the rise

It’s a widespread epidemic that’s been gripping the country.

It’s a widespread epidemic that’s been gripping the country.

Every day, more than 115 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

From August 2016 to August 2017, Texas has seen a nearly 4 percent increase in overdose deaths in one year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opiod use in the Rio Grande Valley is following the national trend.

“Prescription drug abuse is something that we are seeing grow more and more commonly among students in high school and college,” said Irwin Mendoza, Regional Evaluator at Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas, a nonprofit organization focused on drug addiction prevention and treatment.

One in 10 high school students report inappropriately using prescription drugs. Mendoza says Valley youth are misusing codeine, an over-the-counter cough medicine, followed by Xanax, an anti-anxiety prescription drug.

And he says accessing the medications is not very difficult in the area.

“Because of our proximity to Mexico, a lot of these medications can be obtained without a prescription by crossing the border,” said Mendoza.

But sometimes, teens don’t even have to travel to obtain illegal prescription drugs.

“Statistics show that 70 percent of those who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from friends and family,” said Mendoza. “A lot of the times we don’t notice if medication is missing from our medicine cabinet. “

Mendoza recommends that parents lock their medicine cabinet and avoid holding onto unused prescription drugs. Mendoza urges parents to properly dispose of their unwanted medication.

To find a list of a prescription drug drop-off location you can visit prc11.org

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