A University of Colorado freshman called “K” by the Denver Post recently opened a bottle of Vicodin that K stole from her mother. She and a friend crushed several of the painkillers into a powder, divided the pile into skinny lines, and snorted it up their noses. Easy to come by, prescription drugs are passed around campuses like candy, students say. You can buy them for $5 or less per pill, get a prescription from an unsuspecting doctor, or purchase them online.
Students call it “pharming” – the illicit exchange of prescription drugs between friends or buyers. Health officials in Colorado say the phenomenon is thriving like never before. In the past 10 years, the percentage of full-time college students who abuse opiates, tranquilizers, and barbiturates has more than doubled. One in 10 high school seniors already abuses prescription drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The volume of pharmaceutical misuse in Colorado and across the nation is almost overwhelming for investigators, said DEA’s Bill Weinman. “It is a huge problem; it really is,” he said.