Some of the drugs have cartoon characters on the packaging, making it appear harmless. But Fairbanks said the dangers are worse than with the original drugs.
Another concern for narcotics officers is the on-going problem of prescription drug abuse.
During the past decade, drug overdose deaths among teens aged 15 to 19 rose 91 percent, with the majority due to prescription drugs, Fairbanks said. In the United States in 2009, more people died from drug overdoses than automobile accidents, he said.
In 2003 in Utah, prescription drug overdose deaths outnumbered non-prescription drug overdose deaths, according to the Utah Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse Brief. In 2010, prescription drugs were involved in 80 percent of all overdose deaths in Utah, according to the report.
"In Utah, we've been very good about staying away from alcohol and tobacco. But unfortunately, the problem with prescription drugs has been very large," Fairbanks said.
He said the public needs to understand how addictive prescription medication, such as pain pills, can be in order to help prevent it.
"The biggest concern is when people look at prescription drugs, they look at them as safe. They look at them as provided by their health care provider and can do no harm to you. And the fact is, within one week someone can form an addiction. And within a month can require up to seven Hydrocodone pills a day."
To avoid addiction, Fairbanks encouraged people to have both a healthy mind and body. He also said others can assist a person in finding the help they need.
"I would start with church clergy, pastors, bishops, personal friends, associates who have gone down the same road who are familiar with programs that turn things around," Fairbanks said.
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