OPINION: La Jolla not immune from Oxy epidemic


By David Wambaugh

Resident, University City

As an Interventionist, I specialize in helping families to identify, address and disrupt problems of substance abuse with their loved ones. My other function is to successfully transport the patient who is reluctant to get help for their addiction.

Until last year, most of my Interventions were for individuals suffering from alcoholism or illegal drug abuse. Most of them were adults. Over the past year, my Interventions have evolved dramatically. My typical client is now between 12 and 32 years of age, male and female, middle to upper class, and usually high functioning. Most of the Interventions I’ve done as of recent, have taken place in the most exclusive neighborhoods in San Diego County, many of which were in La Jolla.

The drug of choice is Oxycontin, also known as Oxy, Roxy, Beans, Ox, OC and 80’s. Oxycontin is one of the most powerful drugs on the face of the earth. It is most often prescribed for people suffering from the later stages of cancer. Prescription drugs (Oxycontin) have become the new gateway drug for children. Although marijuana is still the second most abused illegal drug for juveniles ranging from 12 to 17, it is the most commonly abused drug in 12 and 13 year olds. More people died last year from opiate related overdoses, than all other mood altering substances combined.

The Oxy Task Force of San Diego has attacked the epidemic through various avenues, but it has yet to be enough. I should certainly not be as busy as I am. The task force has made a great start in recognizing, addressing, and executing a plan of action that has made a difference, but nonetheless, too many kids are still dying at alarming rates. I get calls from desperate parents stating that their child has become addicted to marijuana, alcohol, and maybe something else. The something else is Oxy, nine times out of 10.

If this problem is not aggressively pursued by parents, friends and teachers alike, it will be the leading cause of death among teens, within three years. This is a prediction shared with the countless Physicians that have contacted me for advice on the problem plaguing our children.