Thursday, May 3, 2012

Behind the Orange Curtain: Teen Prescription Drug Abuse in Orange County, CA

The Newport Theater in Costa Mesa, CA, which holds roughly 1, 100 viewers was sold out last night and is sold out tonight for its screening of Behind the Orange Curtain. The title of the documentary reflects what is widely unknown to the visible eye – that there is an endemic prescription drug problem behind the glitter and glam of Orange County, and its greatest victims are teens.

The release of this documentary is timely, as the CDC reported last week that the number of fatalities among 15-19 year old from prescription drug overdoses has increased more than 90% over the last decade.  

Behind the Orange Curtain explores these fatalities, particularly two South County teens who overdosed in 2010 from cocktails of drugs that included Seroquel, an anti-psychotic used as a sleeping pill, Opana, a narcotic pain killer and Clonazempam, a narcotic anti anxiety medication. The over use of any narcotic can lead to an overdose and the ingestion of drug cocktails increases that risk ten fold.

The documentary focuses on teens, known as “Generation Rx,” because they are highly susceptible to taking combinations of pills not knowing their fatal drug interactions. Unlocked medicine cabinets, "pharm parties," rave culture and peer pressure all contribute to this risk. This is depicted on screen through interviews with drug users who shared their stories of abuse and the path that took them there. One interviewee stated he attended 13 funerals in just one year from prescription pill related deaths. 

Although statistics show that prescription pill addiction rates are high in Orange County, the problem extends far beyond the affluent hills of Laguna Niguel and Newport Beach. Florida leads the nation with the highest number of narcotic prescriptions written by “dirty doctors” and Oklahoma was recently reported as having the greatest number of prescription opiate related deaths.

The flooding of prescription pills into society and the hands of teens, and the legislative response to this is explored on screen.  Behind the Orange Curtain hopes to raise awareness beyond the 1,100 seat Newport Theater to educate parents and teens alike to curtail the number of prescription pill related deaths in and beyond Orange County, CA.

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