University of New Mexico pharmacy students have been saying it for years to teenagers in Albuquerque: Just because a doctor prescribes opiod-based pills, that doesn’t make them safe.
Two pharmacy students were on hand for a GenerationRx drug safety presentation Thursday at Freedom High School in Albuquerque and were joined by U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, who took the presentation as an opportunity to highlight President Barack Obama’s declaration of this week as National Heroin and Opiod Awareness Week.
“If you take these (pills), even under a doctor’s supervision, you can still become addicted,” Martinez told the small group of high-schoolers attending the presentation. “The point to this week is to make you aware … educate you to prevent these issues.”
Heroin and other opioids, including prescription oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, are highly effective painkillers, but they also are highly addictive and are linked to increased crime. Prescription opioid use is linked to a transition to heroin. And New Mexico has the nation’s second highest rate of opioid overdoses.
Pharmacy students Brittany Haggard and Jordan Barton delivered a PowerPoint presentation, which they and other volunteers with the New Mexico Heroin and Opiod Prevention and Education Initiative have been presenting since the program launched in 2015.
The presentation highlights the fine line between proper use of prescription drugs and misuse. For example, Haggard said that if you are prescribed an opiod pain killer, such as Oxycontin, for a broken arm and then break your leg while you are taking those pills for arm pain, you should not also use those pain pills for your leg pain.
“That’s misuse,” he told the teens.