Monday, March 9, 2009

Rx drug abuse a teen epidemic here

Arrests last week made only a dent in illegal Islandwide distribution

Sunday, March 08, 2009

At first glance, the numbers seem jarring -- 21,000 prescription painkillers put into the hands of teens and young adults, bought and sold by a makeshift cabal of nearly two dozen Staten Islanders, most in their early 20s.

But as the borough's law enforcement and health professionals tell it, last week's 23 arrests represent just the tip of a problem plaguing the borough's youth culture -- teenagers and young adults across the Island experimenting with high-powered prescription drugs like Xanax, OxyContin and Vicodin, with often tragic and deadly results.

"It's widespread. It's a growing trend of recreational use mixed with drinking alcohol. It's highly addictive," says Luke Nasta, the executive director of Camelot Counseling Centers, who has seen a "gradual, steady increase" of teens coming in for prescription drug addiction over the past five years.

Now, he says, the majority of his center's teen clients are being treated for prescription drug abuse.

The 23 people arrested last week were particularly organized, says District Attorney Daniel Donovan, with the group's ringleader keeping track of when the other members of the circle could fill out their next prescription. Using a stolen prescription pad, they filled out 108 forged prescriptions for oxycodone at 14 different pharmacies, he says.

A single prescription can mean as many as 360 pills, Donovan says, "and a month later, you could buy another 360 pills again."

Still, he said, most abusers don't have to go to those lengths -- "Right out of mom and dad's medicine cabinet is the easiest way," Donovan says. All too often, he adds, recreational abuse leads to addiction, further criminal acts, and tragedy.

Last June, a 17- and 16-year-old boyfriend-girlfriend team went on a burglary and robbery spree on the South Shore, telling police after they were caught they were stealing jewelry so they could buy "Xanax and beer." Both ended up serving time in state prison.

Teens frequently go "car-hopping," searching for unlocked cars to pillage, then sell whatever valuables they find inside so they can buy prescription drugs, Donovan says.

And over the past few years, autopsy results have linked several notable deaths on Staten Island to prescription drug abuse -- 19-year-old Travis Nahas on Nov. 30, who overdosed on alcohol and oxycodone after a night on a "party bus," the March 2008 death of 21-year-old Alex Catrama, who died of a mix of oxycodone, alprazolam and amphetamine; the April 2007 death of Nicholas Caputo, 17, who overdosed on methadone and the painkiller Fentanyl; the July 2006 death of Nicholas Cutrone, 15, who was found in a stolen car, dead of a combination of oxycodone and lorazepam.

"This is serious stuff. Kids figure, 'I'm not shooting heroin, I'm not snorting cocaine, I'm not smoking crack.... This must be safe because an American pharmaceutical company made this,'" says Donovan says.

Anthony Fernandez, now 21, learned first-hand about the deadly effects as he got phone call after phone call informing him whenever one of his friends had died.

"I've gotten that phone call about 11 times. I've been to more wakes than I've been to birthday parties," he says. Now, he runs a memorial page on to commemorate Staten Islanders who died in their youth.

But during his teenage years, he says, he and his friends found a perverse humor in watching each other get high. By the time he was 14, "I started trying this, I started trying that," the Great Kills man says.

"I've been in brawls. I have a scar on the back of my head," he says, recounting a night when he was 17 years old and was jumped by a group wielding baseball bats. He needed 33 stitches after the attack, but that didn't phase him. "In the state of mind that I was in, I got up laughing."

Fernandez says he was jarred out of his reckless lifestyle by seeing so many around him die.

But too many others haven't gotten the message.

Instead of re-evaluating their own life, too many youths will simply light up a joint, or pop a pill in their dead friend's honor, and say, "This one's for you," says Nicholas Bregoli, 20, of Bulls Head.

Bregoli, who spent three weeks in a coma after a car wreck last June, last week made a public appeal to Staten Island's youth warning them not to repeat the reckless, drug- and booze-soaked mistakes of his teenage years.

Teens seem to have little problem finding pills, either -- a 2008 study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed nearly one in five teens surveyed said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer.

When teens who know prescription drug abusers were asked where their acquaintances get their drugs, 34 percent said from home, parents or the medicine cabinet, while another 31 percent said from their friends or classmates.

"The streets, the schools, all you've got to do is make a call: 'I need three of those bars, I need two of those bars,'" Bregoli says.

"Everybody has an unlimited amount of connections," he says, since teens with access to prescription pills often make the easy transition into selling their surplus. "You get more popular, you make more money, and everybody knows your name -- until you get caught."

Over the past 15 years, prescription drug abuse has significantly spiked among teens nationwide -- between 1992 and 2002, prescription opiod abuse jumped 542 percent among 12 to 17 year olds, according to a study by the Columbia University center.

"Kids may preceive that prescription drugs aren't as dangerous as other drugs," says Kevin Conway, a deputy director with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Parents need to take a close look at the kind of drugs in their medicine cabinets, he says. "If they don't need those drugs any longer for their pain, then maybe just pitch them."

And, he adds, the medical community should re-evaluate the quantity of pills prescribed. "Most people that suffer from an acute pain don't need a large supply of narcotics.

Camelot's Nasta officers similar advice to parents, and calls on them "to honestly assess your teen or young adult's behavior for oddities."

"Every individual household needs to know what prescriptions they have," Nasta says. "If they're no longer need for what the initial prescription was for, they should be thrown away, not saved."

John Annese is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at

Rx drug abuse a teen epidemic here -

My Two Cents- Or more like a dollar fifty today ...

This is where my children are being illegally detained..

I wrote about 50 or so words sharing my opinion.. but then deleted it all.. none of it was fit for print.. so use your imagination on how an alienated Mother who has not been allowed access to her children in EIGHT YEARS without a drop of evidence that I was ever abusive...

Could it be because of apparent political connections my admitted abusive husband has to the Panepintos including but not limited to Joseph Panepinto and his wife sitting Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Barbara Panepinto... Why would they help if indeed they did .. possibly because he happens to be living with Aggie Panepinto..

Who by the way shows her love for him here on her Tagged page.. Where she has posted a fake pic of some blonde bombshell.. and all of her friends are males that leave her little love notes about how they want to lick..kiss... etc.. Check it out.. it's almost entertaining!

Side note - check it out quickly.. as she stalks this blog and will probably run and delete her page as soon as she reads this.. Tagged - Aggie P’s Profile

Some of the men she deceived aren't half bad lookin.. to bad they think they're flirting with someone who is nothing more than a fake! Here ladies.. check em out for yourself..

Gender: Female Tagged - Aggie P’s Profile
Location: Staten Island, NY
Age: 53
Orientation: Straight

Last Active: 12 days ago
Profile Views: 614 times
Profile Skin: Default
Member Since: May 26, 2008


View all 11 friends

Tagged - David R’s Profile Male 46,
Location: Staten Island, NY

Tagged - Gabriel B’s Profile - Male 37
Location: Northampton, United Kingdom

Tagged - Gerald M’s Profile Male 43
Loction Phila PA

Tagged - Jim B’s Profile Male 56 (*More on my thoughts about Jim at the end of the blog)
Location: Brooklyn NY - Jim B is horny. Feb 25, 2009 4:56am
i am an older male looking for females of any age in the nyc area

Tagged - JJCC’s Profile 51, Male
Staten Island, NY

John F 55, Male
Location: Staten Island, NY

JOSEPH L 40, Male
Loation: Elmhurst, NY

Paul A 55, Male
Location: Algona, IA

Location: Manhattan, NY

Scott S 53, Male, Married
Manhattan, NY

Well in closing.. I'd like to say congratulations to my estranged husband.. he finally got what he apparently wished for.. a woman that was making an ass out of him publicly while he is still calling her his woman.. by not only talking to other men..(which is forbidden in his world) but also having an open to the public "hook up" page attached to her real name with a fake pic.. obviously she isn't the sharpest tool in the shed....

Tagged - Aggie P’s Profile

* (At least this one is closer to her age even though ..he's married - Oh wait she's not on there to find a real partner- she's got one (yeah the one I got rid of) that came with the pleasure of her being given MY SPOT AS A MOTHER TO MY CHILDREN! - I so hope he stalks this blog and sees this before she does- yes I would love for her own actions of making this tagged page turn out to work against her and I'll take that as pay back for her using her apparent political power to have me eliminated from my children's lives!)

UPDATE - on March 10 at 5:47 PM --

Do I know this psycho or what.. didn't I say above that she would run and change or delete her profile?

View all updates
Aggie P updated her relationship status. 2:25pm
Aggie P updated her profile information. 2:25pm

Last Active: Online now!
Profile Views: 625 times
Profile Skin: Default
Member Since: May 26, 2008

Gender: Female
Location: Staten Island, NY
Age: 53
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Networking
Orientation: Straight
What’s New
View all updates
Aggie P updated her relationship status. 2:25pm
Aggie P updated her profile information. 2:25pm

Here is my site meter watching her stalking me - notice she left me a comment.. of course I rejected it .. more of her insanity.. but still and all.. it'll be saved for future reference.

Domain Name ? (Network)
IP Address ? (Verizon Internet Services)

Verizon Internet Services

North America
United States (Facts)
New York
40.6525, -73.9554 (Map)

English (U.S.)en-us
Operating System

Microsoft WinXP

Internet Explorer 7.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727)

version 1.3

1024 x 768
Color Depth
32 bits
Time of Visit

Mar 10 2009 5:29:32 pm
Last Page View

Mar 10 2009 5:33:11 pm
Visit Length

3 minutes 39 seconds
Page Views

Referring URL
Search Engine
Search Words
louise uccio
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click

Time Zone

Visitor's Time

Mar 10 2009 6:29:32 pm
Visit Number


[<<] [>>]

Visitor Path
Duration (s)
louise uccio
Out Click
Tagged - Aggie P019s Profile
Out Click
Tagged - Aggie P019s Profile
Out Click
View all 11 friends
Out Click
Tagged - Jim B019s Profile
Out Click

Refresh - Go to homepage

No comments: