Growing Number of Basin Teens Popping Pills, Prompts Town Hall Meeting

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- Excessive pill popping is a concern all over the country. The Basin is no exception to that. "They're cheap and easy to get," Title Program Coordinator, Nathan Riojas with Palmer Drug Abuse Program in Midland, said.

A rising number of people in the Basin are getting high off of painkillers and stimulants.

"Prescription drugs are on a rise right now in the Permian Basin," Riojas said.

Colleague Kim Henderson agrees. She adds, "We have seen an increase in prescription drug abuse."

The fastest growing age group includes kids and teens.

"The average age of first use is about 12-years-old," Riojas said.

Palmer Drug Abuse Program has seen abusers as young as 10-years-old.

Getting a hold of some prescription pill bottles doesn't take much effort.

"You can go to the medicine cabinet in your house or the medicine cabinet in your friend's house or your grandparents' house," Riojas added.

At Wednesday's Midland Coalition meeting, counselors and law enforcement agreed that action needs to quickly be taken.

"It's just a growing problem in our community and we want to address it before it gets out of hand," Henderson said.

So they're putting together a town hall meeting set for sometime in the September in the hopes of raising some much needed awareness.

The Palmer Drug Abuse Program and other local law enforcement agencies will be meeting within the next couple of weeks to finalize a date for the town hall meeting.