'You have no idea what you can do to a kid's brain.'
COOS BAY, Ore. - A new report shows that opiod prescriptions in Coos County are some of the highest in the state of Oregon, and for some, those prescriptions can lead to drug dependency.
The numbers have skyrocketed, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, the amount of opioids prescribed per person was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999.
Cheyenne Arbuckle, of Coos Bay, got sick at a young age and was put on morphine. She believes that moment is what triggered her drug dependency.
"It was kind of like a switch was flipped, and even though I was like 9 or 10, I still knew something had changed when I was introduced to those drugs," said Arbuckle. "It escalated from marijuana to age 14, I was on oxycotin, and then by 15 I was on heroin."
Not everyone who takes opioids becomes addicted. Doctors say genetics and other factors play a role.
Local health officials believe the key to prevention lies in educating patients about the dangers of medication and giving alternative treatments to control the pain.
"Whether that be acupuncture or physical therapy, massage, other modalities," said Rachel Stappler, a Physician Assistant in North Bend. "Then offering other types of medications that are not nearly as dangerous or high risk."
Arbuckle has been clean now for a year and a half, and she is going back to school to find a solution for better treatment.
"I understand some kids do need those prescriptions, and some people might need those opiates, but you have no idea what you can do to a kid's brain or even a young adult or full grown adult's," said Arbuckle.
Coos County will soon launch a public service campaign to educate people about the dangers of opiod use.