by Nick Lawton
MIDLAND - A dark new trend is tightening its grip on West Texas youth.
"Now it's basically become an epidemic," Lieutenant Seth Herman with the Midland Police Department, said.
"They're putting themselves at risk without any oversight," Dr. Richard Bartlett of Permian Prompt Care, said.
Drug abuse at a young age.
While the problem may not be entirely new, the drugs themselves have a new face.
"It's basically a switch in drugs that are being abused, you know, it started out with Ritalin and the ADHD medications, ADD medications and now it's progressed to pain management medications. The majority are going to be late teens, early twenties," Herman said.
Midland Police say they are seeing more and more cases of young people taking pain-killer narcotics like Vicodin and Oxycontin just to get high.
These drugs are extremely dangerous, known to impair the brain, slow your reflexes and cause difficulty breathing.
But like the trend itself, there are even more hidden dangers.
"They'll have things that they never thought they'd have," Bartlet said. "Like abdominal cramping and pain and diarrhea, body aches, trouble concentrating, all these vague symptoms."
These aren't your ordinary drugs.
Doctors in the Basin tell NewsWest 9 they're prescription only, given for severe amounts of pain.
That raises the question: How are younger kids getting their hands on them?
Authorities suspect teens are taking the drugs from their parents' prescription, but they say even that doesn't account for the large numbers.
Which brings up a startling new idea altogether.
"Unfortunately now because it has become so prevalent there are actually people dealing in those specific prescription medications," Herman said.
"They're stepping into a whole other level of criminal activity because narcotics are watched over very carefully for a reason. They're very dangerous," Bartlett said.
Midland Police say they will continue to investigate the abuse and strongly encourage all parents to communicate with their children the dangers of narcotics and take great care with their own prescriptions.