A numbing trend: Prescription drug abuse on the rise

Cyrus Moinzadeh was smart, a "whiz at everything," his mother said. He could speak three languages and had a photographic memory. He was charming and friendly and had beautiful blue eyes.

On Dec. 16, 2007, the 23-year-old Torrey Pines graduate died after overdosing on OxyContin.

"So many dreams buried," his mother Kiyan Yazdani said. "Pointless and senseless."

Ask Yazdani about the price of OxyContin abuse and she will tell you she's felt Cyrus' absence through every minute of every hour of the one year and four months since his death.

And she is not alone. Of Cyrus' closest group of five friends from high school, three have died from drug overdoses. The other two are in rehab for Oxy addiction. Eight lives from the Torrey Pines class of 2002 alone have been lost to drugs, Yazdani said.

Yazdani said a lot of parents want to close their eyes to it - some who have lost a child to drug addiction will say it was a heart condition or a lung condition because they don't want to talk about the real problem.

But Yazdani does, if it can save just one life. She doesn't want her fraternity of grieving mothers to grow any larger than it already is.

"I don't want any other parents to be where I am," Yazdani said. "They should be taking flowers to their children's weddings, not to their graves everyday like I am."

OxyContin, a formula of the opiate oxycodone, is prescribed for relief associated with severe injuries, bursitis, dislocation, fractures, arthritis, lower back pain and cancer pain.

Overdoses can result in stupor, coma, muscle flaccidity, severe respiratory depression, hypertension and cardiac arrest, according to Glenn Wagner, San Diego County's chief medical examiner.

If OxyContin is an epidemic, teenagers in the North County are living in its epicenter, Yazdani said.

Teenagers can type "Get oxycontin without a prescription" into an Internet search engine and find Web sites that will ship the drug from Canada or Mexico. But Yazdani said North County teenagers don't even have to go that far. She said with a phone call, the drug will be delivered that day. Some dealers even offer a "month free" of use.

One pill can run $60 to $80, according to Joseph Olesky, the San Dieguito Union School District substance abuse counselor. Taken orally, the capsules are time-released, so to get the high faster, teens crush it up and snort it or melt the pill to smoke it. They place the drug on tin foil, heat it from underneath with a lighter and inhale the fumes with a straw.

Smoking or snorting OxyContin, or Oxy, causes the drug to enter the body very fast, within 10 minutes. The high, similar to that of heroin, can last three to four hours, Olesky said. "Some melt it in a spoon and shoot it up," he added, noting all methods of use are equally dangerous.

Scott Henderson, of the San Diego Police Department narcotics division, spoke about the problem at a community crime forum in February. He advised parents to keep an eye on their teenagers' activities.

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