The Dangers of Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

Combining prescriptions or using alcohol with a particular medication may inadvertently cause depression, anxiety, or physical health problems. Here are some tips.

  • Know that some medicines do not mix well with other medications, including over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies.
  • Note changes in body weight. These changes can influence the amount of medicine needed.
  • Read labels on medications carefully and follow the directions.
  • Look for pictures or statements that prohibit drinking alcohol while taking a certain medicine.
  • Talk to a health care professional about all medications, including prescription ones, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins.

Go through the medicine chest and get rid of expired medicines regularly. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has a box where you can safely dispose of all unused and or expired medication.

How To Talk to Your Kids About Drugs

More than half of all American kids will try drugs at least once between first and 12th grade. You can influence your child’s decision. Here are some tips to help you steer your child in the right direction.

  1. Recognize that this is your job. You have the greatest influence on your kids. Don’t leave drug prevention to the school.
  2. Start early. Help your kids form attitudes toward drugs early. If they know drugs are bad long before they’re offered any, it will be easier for them to say no when that time comes.
  3. Keep it simple. Be firm and clear about what you believe and the behavior you expect from your kids.
  4. Encourage personal responsibility. Self-reliance begins when kids take on some degree of responsibility. Responsible kids make wise choices about drug use.
  5. Be a good role model. No matter what you tell your children, behavior speaks volumes.
  6. Know how to handle your own substance abuse history. While it may be tempting, avoid talking about your own experimentation with alcohol or drugs. Your child may take this as evidence that such behavior is acceptable or harmless. However, if you are in recovery yourself, you may want to share your experience and describe how you were able to overcome addiction.
  7. Reason with your kids. As your children grow up, rules won’t be enough. They need information about the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Talk with them, not just to them.
  8. Listen. Listen to your child; encourage them to tell you what they think.
  9. Know your kids’ friends. Get to know your kids’ friends and their families. Are these kids likely to succumb to peer pressure? What are the other parents views on experimentation?
  10. Don’t worry. Taking a firm stand against drug use will not damage your relationship with your child. Many kids are looking for a good reason to avoid trying drugs, so it helps if they can explain, “My mom and dad would kill me, if I did.”

What can you do if a friend or family member is overdosing?

teensTry to get your friend or loved one to respond. Call their name. Shake them. Try to wake them up. If you can’t wake them up, immediately call 911. If you are afraid, leave when the rescue unit gets there…

But Never Let Them Sleep it Off!

You may be the only person who can make a difference. If you don’t help, your friend or family member may suffer permanent brain damage or die.

Symptoms of prescription drug overdose

If you, or any of your friends, have taken prescription pain relievers, here are the danger signs to watch for:

  • Slow breathing (less than ten breaths a minute is really serious trouble)
  • Seizures
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion
  • Being tired, nodding off or passing out
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Apathy (they don’t care about anything)
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Information obtained from the Food and Drug Administration.


Glossary of Terms

Section 1 – Treatment Terms

Detoxification – A period of medical treatment that usually includes counseling, during which a person is helped to overcome the physical and psychological withdrawal of drugs.

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) – A highly-regarded, evidence-based treatment method that fosters moral decision making through structured exercises by addressing beliefs and reasoning.

Outpatient Counseling – Form of substance abuse treatment where the addict lives at home, can continue working or attending school, but has regularly set appointments for substance abuse counseling.

Residential Treatment – Form of substance abuse treatment where the addict lives at the treatment facility. Generally, those with a more severe and persistent addiction diagnosis choose this type of counseling.

12-Step Program – Developed by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930’s, the 12-step method of treating those who abuse drugs or alcohol has been accepted as the most common treatment for addiction.

Withdrawal – The discontinuation of use of an addictive substance and the physiological and mental readjustment that accompanies such discontinuation.

Section 2 – Drug Terminology

Bath Salts – A relatively new drug on the market, Bath Salts are a synthetic, stimulant powder product containing amphetamine-like chemicals, including mephedrone, which may have a high risk for overdose. Bath salts can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.

Cocaine/Crack – A white powder or off-white chunky substance that is usually snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Highly addictive, a user will need more cocaine each time to get high. Users feel euphoric, energetic, talkative and mentally alert.

Ecstasy – This drug, which comes in a pill or white powder is usually swallowed, but can be snorted. Ecstasy is often used at parties so people can dance and stay active for longer periods of time.

Heroin – A bitter tasting powder, heroin can range from white to dark brown to black in color. Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted and is highly addictive.

Inhalants – Common household products that people sniff or huff (inhale through the mouth) to get high. Some products are nail polish remover, hairspray, gasoline, paint thinner or glue. Using inhalants can be very dangerous because a single use can lead to slurred speech, loss of coordination, liver, kidney or brain damage, trouble breathing or suffocation.

LSD – Scentless or colorless, LSD has a slight bitter taste and is often found in tablets, capsules or as a liquid. LSD’s greatest effect is on the mind and it can make the user experience things that are not normal. Many people die after taking LSD because their mind has been tricked into doing dangerous things. Even after a person stops taking LSD, the mental effects could remain for days, months and in some cases, years.

Marijuana – A mixture of dried leaves, stems and seeds from a plant called Cannabis, marijuana has over 400 chemicals in it. Marijuana is generally smoked in a cigarette, pipe, cigar or device called a bong. Though users feel relaxed, marijuana causes memory loss, dehydration, problems thinking and concentrating, loss of coordination, panic attacks, and increased appetite.

Methamphetamine – A white powder with no smell and a bitter taste, methamphetamine easily dissolves in liquids. It can also be snorted, injected, smoked or taken orally. Highly addictive, methamphetamine causes an increase in energy that lasts 20 minutes to 12 hours. In addition to causing confusion, insomnia, breathing problems, hallucinations or delusions, anxiety, convulsions, hyperthermia, brain damage and even death, methamphetamine can dramatically alter one’s looks by causing sores and rotting teeth. This is known as “meth mouth.”

PCP – A white crystalline powder sold as a tablet, capsule or colored powder, PCP can be snorted, smoked or eaten and has a bitter chemical taste. This drug makes the user feel “detached” from the things around them. People who abuse PCP for a long time may suffer from memory loss, trouble speaking and thinking.

Prescription Medications – Some prescription drugs, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are addictive and very dangerous when used for non-medical reasons or in combination with alcohol. Taken in high doses, these can lead to paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures and irregular heartbeats.

Synthetic Marijuana – This psycho active drug, comprised of herbs treated with synthetic chemicals mimics the effects of marijuana. This product is also referred to as K2 or Spice.

LOCAL MATTERS 12-5-2012: Part Two, a visit with Nancy Page from the First Step recovery and detox facility

460>_7550161This portion of the Dec. 5 Local Matters show features Nancy Page, Clinical Advisor of Special Services at the First Step recovery and detox facility in Sarasota. Nancy provided an overview of the operation and provided insight into what is entailed in a short-term detox session. She also shared her wisdom on the causes of addiction and why some people get addicted and some don’t.

Listen to podcast

First Step Accepts Grant From Wilson-Wood Foundation

SARASOTA, Fla., November 30, 2012 – First Step of Sarasota, Inc. is pleased to accept a $10,000 grant from the Wilson-Wood Foundation. Funds will be used for new furniture at First Step’s residential Choices program, a residential substance abuse treatment program for adult males.

“First Step is grateful to the Wilson-Wood Foundation for this grant award,” said First Step President and CEO David Beesley. He added, “the men who enter the Choices program have made a commitment to make drastic changes in their lives. While in the eyes of many, the purchase of furniture may seem ordinary, the clients are always appreciative when they receive community support, which helps their self-confidence and contributes to their overall success.”

Since 1968, First Step has provided affordable substance abuse treatment and prevention programs to Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto Counties.

For more information on First Step, visit <> or contact Kelly French at 941-552-2065.

First Step of Sarasota Receives Grant

First Step of Sarasota Receives Grant

First Step of Sarasota, the region’s leader in substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to install keyless entry door locks at the Residential campus on North Washington Boulevard in Sarasota.

David J. Beesley, President and CEO, of First Step stated, “We are grateful for the Gulf Coast’s support with this grant. Installing the new locks will provide better security for our clients. At the same time, it will allow First Step to save money in changing locks as clients come and go from our residential treatment programs.”

First Step of Sarasota has provided high quality, affordable substance abuse treatment and recovery programs on Florida’s Gulf Coast for over 40 years. Last year, nearly 14,000 individuals were served through the agency’s prevention and treatment programs. For more information about First Step, go to or contact Kelly French at 941-552-2065.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation inspires people and mobilizes resources to transform the communities it serves. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in late 1995 and, since it began making grants in 1996, has funded more than $123 million in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services, education, civic affairs, and the environment. Gulf Coast is the largest community foundation in Florida.