The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

90° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Fine print: May cause death

    Feeling anxious? Sad? Back hurt? America’s got a drug for you!

    We live in a society bombarded with drug advertisements every day. But what they don’t tell you is, as a young adult, you’re more likely to die from improperly using a prescription drug than anything else.

    For the first time, drugs now outnumber traffic fatalities as the biggest cause of death in America, according to data analyzed by the Los Angeles Times.

    Recreational use of prescription drugs, such as Vicodin and Xanex, killed more people than heroin or cocaine in 2009. This growing trend reared its ugly head on campus last semester.

    Wilson Forrester, a pre-physiology sophomore, was found dead at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house in April. According to a post-mortem report, he had taken a combination of the painkiller oxycodone, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and alcohol. None of the doses individually would have killed him, but together proved fatal.

    “College students today are woefully unaware and ignorant that combining these substances can be fatal,” Chip Forrester, Wilson’s father and chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, told newspapers. “There is little to no education being done on college campuses and at fraternities about this danger.”

    Students need to be aware of the danger of drugs, even the ones that come from a doctor. If they were so safe, they wouldn’t make you wait for 20 minutes and explain all the dangers and proper dosages to you before they handed them over.

    College students come home from breaks a few wisdom teeth lighter and with a pocket full of painkillers. If they aren’t using them to quell the pain of their wisdom teeth operation, why shouldn’t they make a few bucks back and sell them to friends? Perhaps, it’s because you might unintentionally kill them or trigger an addiction.

    Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, drugs killed around 37,485 people in 2009, according to the CDC. Arizona had about 13 drug-overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2008, according to the LA Times.

    There is an unhealthy dependency on drugs in America. People would rather take pills for anxiety or painkillers than participate in mental or physical therapy. But these drugs are highly addictive and deadly.

    An accidental second dose, confusing two medications or giving a medication to someone not prescribed to it can kill. It doesn’t take much.

    People are less likely to pay attention if it comes from a little white or orange bottle. Taking a presciption pill from a friend is far less sketchy than taking one from a guy on a corner, right? Wrong. Prescription medications give people a false sense of security.

    If someone takes ecstasy, an illegal drug that gives a feeling of euphoria, most people will tell them to drink lots of water and make sure they don’t overheat and have a friend look out for you. If someone takes Vicodin for pleasure, how many people actually drink the full glass of water suggested, don’t drive their car after and make sure not to mix it with any medications? Do they even tell their friends?

    A pill is a pill. A drug is a drug. They all carry risks. Students are going to keep doing it. But if you have extra drugs, just throw them away. Don’t give them to your friends and risk the guilt of them accidentally overdosing.

    Wilson Forrester’s death was a tragedy, but a preventable one. There hasn’t been a big push from the UA to educate students about prescription drugs, even after last semester. But why do we need official incentive to act now? Don’t give your drugs away once you’re done, treat drug use as a dangerous habit and help educate and look after your fellow students.

    — Michelle A. Monroe is a journalism senior. She can be reached at

    More to Discover
    Activate Search