Irvington police officer Detective Kevin Johnson has been a member of the Greenburgh Drug and Alcohol Task Force since 2006.
Since that time, he has charged more teens and young adults not only for possession of marijuana and alcohol but also for un-prescribed pills like Benzodiazepines—anti-anxiety medication—pain killers and sleep aids, such as Ambien.
“It’s a huge problem, especially in these affluent towns,” he said. “We’re seeing it a lot more than before, and it seems as if some parents don’t care about it nearly as much as having their kids do ‘illegal’ drugs.”
Hastings pharmacist Mike Altman agrees.
“I’ve been filling more prescriptions for [for adults] for pain killers, anti-anxiety medication, and sleep aids since the economy became so bad in about 2008,” said Altman, owner of Greenleaf Pharmacy (now New World Apothecary) in Hastings.
In early July, Irvington police charged two teens in one week with criminal possession of controlled substances—one with possession of Temeazapan, prescription sleep aid and the other had Xanax, a widely-prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
In May, the Dobbs Fery PTSA sponsored a forum in which they invited a village youth officer, a substance abuse counselor, and a member of the Westchester County District Attorney’s office to present on the same issue.
The event garnered a very small audience, frustrating some of the parent organizers.
That many parents are not as concerned by the trend in teens using un-prescribed medications troubles both Altman and Johnson on many levels.
One major cause for their concern is that the parents are most often the “dealers.”
“You see it especially with ‘as-needed’ medications,” Altman said. “The parents are prescribed the medications, but they don’t take them on a regular basis; that way they don’t notice when their kids take a few here and there.”
“There are many ways in which these kids get the drugs,” he said. “Some buy or steal them from friends with valid prescriptions. They’re not very difficult for them to find.”
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