OxyContin, a highly addictive narcotic that doctors prescribe to treat chronic pain, has hooked the “Just Say No” generation. Across the U.S., it has become a party drug favored by young, often middle-class people, and the trend is exploding in Northern California, says the Sacramento Bee. “This is a generation of kids that said ‘No’ to marijuana and heroin,” said Jim Tanaka, an agent of the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. “We didn’t teach them about presciption medications like OxyContin. They think it’s OK because a doctor can prescribe it. Then they become addicts.”
Officials cannot accurately estimate how many young people are abusing medications like OxyContin. “But it’s a big problem,” Tanaka said, with teens and young adults stealing the drug from family members, forging prescriptions and buying it on the streets. “This past year is the worst I’ve ever seen.” Meanwhile, treatment centers in the region are seeing more young adults addicted to oxy’s insatiable rush. “Patients younger than 28 are the fastest-growing population that we have,” said Udi Barkai of Aegis Treatment Centers, which operates 24 clinics in California.