Archive for the ‘Northern Illinois University’ Category

High Prescription Drug Use and Abuse in Colleges

March 8, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 9, 2008

American college students use and abuse prescription drugs like never before.  They are following in the always dangerous and sometimes deadly steps of celebrities.
alprazolam 2mg tablet bottle

alprazolam 2mg tablet bottle

Actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, the New York City medical examiner’s office said.  Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and other “celebrities” have also been known to take these medications.  Used together — and with alcohol — these drugs have an unpredictable impact, can be addictive and are sometimes fatal. 

Lohan in a frightful piblicity photo.

And the shooters in the most violent campus multiple-killings, at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, have both had some history with a mixture of prescription medications.
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The journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine recently reported that compared to college students taking prescription drugs for medical reasons, those who use medications without a prescription are more likely to abuse illegal drugs.  The report also gave information on the high number of our college students using such drugs as sleep aids and anti-depressants.

Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., M.S.W. (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) says that in the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in prescription rates of medications – such as stimulants, opioids, and benzodiazepines – that are likely to be abused in the United States.

“These increases are likely the result of many factors, including improved awareness regarding the signs and symptoms of several disorders, increased duration of treatment, availability of new medications and increased marketing,” said Dr. McCabe. “The increases in prescription rates have raised public health concerns because of the abuse potential of these medications and high prevalence rates of non-medical use, abuse and dependence, especially among young adults 18 to 24 years of age.”

Most people familiar with today’s young people, the Hollywood tabloids and other information sources can readily conclude what drugs are most used and abused.

Painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills are the most used and abused drugs among our college students and throughout our society, experts say.

According to Medical News Today, Dr. McCabe used a Web survey of 3,639 college students to acquire information about prescription drug use and potential drug abuse. The average age of the sample was 19.9 years. Students were asked if they used prescribed or had used without a prescription.

Students were also asked if they had experienced drug-related problems like engaging in illegal activities to obtain drugs, having withdrawal symptoms, or developing medical problems due to drug use.

Results of the survey are summarized below:

–59.9% reported medically using at least one of the four drugs with a prescription

–About 20% reported taking them without a prescription for non-medical reasons

–39.7% reported that they had used the drugs only by prescription

–4.4% used medications, but were not prescribed them

–15.8% reported using some medications, both with and without prescriptions

The researcher also found that students who reported using drugs without prescriptions were more likely to screen positive for drug abuse compared to students who never used them or who had only used them for medical reasons.

Dr. McCabe believes that physicians should be extremely careful when prescribing commonly abused drugs to college students.

“Clearly, appropriate diagnosis, treatment and therapeutic monitoring of college students who are receiving abusable prescription medications is crucial, not only to improve clinical outcomes but also to help prevent the abuse of these medications within a population that is largely responsible for its own medication management,” he writes.

“Finally, any efforts aimed at reducing non-medical use of prescription drugs will have to take into consideration that these drugs are highly effective and safe medications for most patients who use them as prescribed.”

There is another insidious implication of Dr. McCabe’s study.  If college students are taking these drugs at an alarming rate; when did they start?  For most, they start down this path while in high school or before.

Some of the Commonly Abused Medications

Oxycodone, a painkiller, is the active ingredient in the prescription drug OxyContin. Hydrocodone, another painkiller, is often combined with acetaminophen, as in the prescription drug Vicodin. Diazepam, sold under the commercial name Valium, is used to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal. Temazepam, brand name Restoril, is prescribed in the short term to help patients fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

Alprazolam, commonly known under the brand name Xanax, is part of a class of medications called benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

Doxylamine, found in common “nighttime sleep aids,” is an an antihistamine that causes drowsiness as a side effect and is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. (It is also used, in combination with decongestants, to relieve cough and cold symptoms.)

Ambian is a nightime sleep aid that is often abused and can be addictive.

The painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone are opiates, which are dangerous when combined with anti-anxiety medicines like diazepam, alprazolam and temazepam. According to a Drug Enforcement Administration Web site, oxycodone is often abused and an acute overdose can cause respiratory arrest and death.

Diazepam is sold under the brand name Valium and alprazolam is sold under the name Xanax. Temazepam is also used as a sleep aid and sold under the name Restoril. Doxylamine, a sleep aid and antihistamine, is an active ingredient in a number of over-the-counter medications, including NyQuil.

Related:
Northern Illinois Univ Killer Took Usual Deadly Cocktail Of Prescribed Drugs

AP probe finds drugs in drinking water

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: Alarming Facts

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Northern Illinois Univ Killer Took Usual Deadly Cocktail Of Prescribed Drugs

February 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 21, 2008

Jessica Baty said that her boyfriend of two years, Steven Kazmierczak, 27, had been taking Xanax, used to treat anxiety, and Ambien, a sleep agent, as well as the antidepressant Prozac.  All apparently were doctor prescribed medications.

Mr. Kazmierrczak killed five students one week ago today at Northern Illinois University before he killed himself.

This undated image obtained from a MySpace webpage shows Steven ...
Kazmierczak (AP photo)

CNN said that Kazmierczak had been taking the three drugs prescribed for him by his psychiatrist, prior to the Northern Illinois University killings.

We at Peace and Freedom have written about the danger of these particular drugs before.  Moreover, nobody seems to know or understand what happens inside the human mind when these drugs are used in combination.

All of these drugs were found nearby the body of actor Heath Ledger after his death.

Ledger 

Actor Heath Ledger, 28, died January 22 at an apartment in Lower Manhattan.

Britney Spear and other troubled celebrities have also taken two or more of these drugs in combination and experienced personality changes.

Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008. A Los Angeles court ... 
Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008.  Her year so far has featured admission to a hospital psychiatric unit for evaluation, a continuing custody battle with her “ex” over her children and her own custody being awarded to her natural father because a court found her a danger to herself and others, officials said.
(AFP/File/Gabriel Bouys)

Related:

Our Holiday Season: A Good Time To Discuss Drugs and Alcohol in America

Death Threat: What Do Many Teens Have in Common With Heath Ledger, Britney Spears?

Drug Abuse, Drug Overdose Killed Heath Ledger

Britney Spears: Decline Repeatedly Noted Before
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USA Today
February 21, 2008
From staff and wire reports

DEKALB, Ill. — Steven Kazmierczak was an academic star at Northern Illinois University. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the Cole Hall auditorium where his passion for sociology began and where he returned to carry out his deadly attack.

Teachers saw a young man eager to learn. His books were littered with tabs, highlighting thoughts he literally wanted at his fingertips.

“He was just devastatingly good, he would talk about ideas,” said Jim Thomas, an emeritus professor of sociology and criminology at NIU.

That makes Kazmierczak’s assault on the hall where he took his first sociology class confusing to people who knew him.

“This young man enjoyed some of the greatest satisfaction and success of his life at this institution, and why he chose to come back to here and commit this heinous crime is a mystery,” NIU spokeswoman Melanie Magara said.

Last Thursday, the 27-year-old opened fire during a science lecture with a shotgun and pistols, killing five students before he committed suicide.

CNN reported Wednesday that Kazmierczak’s former girlfriend, Jessica Baty, said he had been taking Xanax, Ambien and Prozac, prescribed by a psychiatrist. Xanax is an anti-anxiety drug. Prozac is an antidepressant and Ambien is a sleeping aid. Baty said that she tried to persuade him to stop taking one of them and that he stopped taking Prozac three weeks before the attack.

It’s not unheard of for psychiatrists to prescribe all three drugs for one patient, and the combination isn’t necessarily problematic, said Emil Coccaro, psychiatry chief at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Baty also told CNN that Kazmierczak was “being secretive” with his computer. “When he would sit on the couch with his laptop, he would turn it away from me,” she said.

Police continued searching for motives as NIU prepared to mark the first week since the deadly rampage. Beginning today at 3:06 p.m. Central Time, people will observe five minutes of silence as bells at the Holmes Student Center and area churches chime until 3:11 p.m. — one minute for each slain student.

When classes resume Monday, there will be “a significant increase” in security on campus, NIU Police Chief Donald Grady said at a news briefing Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything we possibly can to make certain that not only are the students safe … but that they actually feel safe as well.”

He said investigators have interviewed 100 people and examined 120 pieces of evidence.

Kazmierczak left no suicide note, Grady said.