Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise, Iowa Teen Shares Her Struggle

By Brady Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — "I thought that it was going to be something to get a good high with, and wasn't going to be a problem at all," said Taryn Erbes, a Kennedy High School student on Wednesday. Her story was the centerpiece of a statewide campaign for prescription drug abuse awareness.

The program, called Iowa Medicine TLC (Talk, Lock, Connect), is an effort by the Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center to get parents and their kids talking about abuse and misuse of prescription medication.

17 year-old Erbes says her first time popping prescription pain meds didn't seem like a big deal, but they quickly turned her life in the wrong direction.

"I would leave school to go get it, and then I just started not going to practice, and stopped caring about the sports, and started caring more about using," Erbes told us.

OxyContin and Xanax pushed interests like track and wrestling to the side, and to make matters worse, they were easy to find. "I could get it at school, I could get it on the street," Erbes recalled.

Ease of access is one of the main reasons medicine abuse has become such a glaring issue among young people, according to ISAIC program manager Emily Blomme.

"It could be a friend's home and they bring it to school," Blomme said.

Blomme added that keeping those medications out of the wrong hands is as easy as storing them in a secret location or a lockbox. If you suspect a member of your family is abusing, there are signs.

"Changes in appetite, changes in patterns of sleep, dilated pupils," Blomme said.

After a yearlong battle, Taryn finally admitted herself for a 90-day stint in rehab, which she's finishing up. The toughest part of that decision was just asking for help.

"But then I realized that I really do need the help, and inpatient would really help me," she said. That's her message to young people out there struggling with the same problem: "If you really need the help, reach out and ask for it."

You can find out more about the campaign by visiting www.IowaMedicineTLC.org, or calling their helpline at 866-242-4111.
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