Formal studies and reports have caused San Diego State’s health officials to do some informal email surveys to see how their students compare to other universities and to their local community with regard to drug use. They were not surprised to find that use of opiates is on the rise among their students and has been for the last ten years.
SDSU Associate Psychology Professor Paul Gilbert, who teaches the drugs and behavior class at SDSU, said prescription drugs can often lead to the addiction to opiates like heroin.
“We have also seen an increase in the prescription of these opiates in the last 10 years,” Gilbert said. “People often start taking these drugs beyond ‘as prescribed.’ They give you a sort of high, and maybe if someone is depressed they may start wanting to get that high more and more.”
How is San Diego State University reacting to this news? Well, they are not taking it lying down. They are starting with an awareness within the community and especially among students. They want people to be aware that opioid abuse is dangerous, especially if mixed with alcohol or other drugs. And helping members of the community recognize if someone has mixed them to call for professional help immediately in order to save lives.
“We are trying to help students understand that mixing opiates with alcohol, even once, can cause death,” Lange said. “Students have this misconception that they or their friends can ‘sleep it off,’ but that isn’t true.”
It is estimated that one person dies from an accidental drug overdose every nineteen minutes in this country. In the majority of cases, opioids, often heroin or prescription narcotic medication, is found to be part of the cause of death.
Cliffside Malibu has seen a sharp increase in clients needing painkiller addiction treatment as well as heroin addicts who started using pills recreationally.