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McKenna tells of growing prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse among teens is becoming such a big problem in this state that as many students are dying from it as from car accidents, Attorney General Rob McKenna told the Sunrise Rotary Club at its regular Friday morning meeting, Aug. 15.

It was the latest campaign stop for McKenna, who is running against Tacoma Democrat John Ladenburg for a second term as the state's chief

legal officer.

"Students are getting it regarding methamphetamine but not prescription drugs because they come from a doctor," McKenna said.

He cited a USA Today story that quoted teens saying it was easier for them to obtain prescription drugs than beer.

"So we have to raise awareness of the issue. It's easier to get 'oxycotton' than heroin, so clearly there's a trend," McKenna said.

"Oxycotton" is the popular term for the prescription drug OxyContin, a time-release form of oxycodone, a powerful opiate used for pain control.

McKenna said when teens try to get high by chewing these pills to release medication all at once that is meant to be released over several hours, the results can be lethal.

"The line between being high and being dead is narrow,"

he said.

Combating the problem will require education, law enforcement and a method for disposing of leftover prescription drugs.

This fall he plans to talk to students about prescription drug abuse at a conference in Yakima, then train them to talk to other students, McKenna said.

Using the Internet, blogs and YouTube, he hopes to spread the message about prescription drug abuse then present awards for the best campaigns in the spring of 2009, McKenna said.

The effort is being funded by $100,000 from a drug company convicted of illegally marketing prescription drugs, McKenna said.

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