Thanks for the article “Under the Influence: Alcohol and Drugs” by Lexi Pandell. With the recent deaths and overdoses, it’s important to call attention to the rising problem at UCSB with opioids. I wanted to point out that the article cited a statistic that 2.5 percent of UCSB students have tried opiates. In that same survey an additional 11 percent have tried painkillers/opioids such as morphine, codeine, Vicodin and OxyContin.

On April 14, I attended a panel held by Student Health to facilitate a better understanding of this issue for health professionals, counselors and law enforcement. On the panel were two UCSB students who gave their experiences with opioids in the Isla Vista community and the director of the treatment center, Recovery Road Medical Center, Dr. P. Joseph Frawley. The students addressed a common misconception: because many opioids are prescription drugs, people don’t believe that they can still be dangerous. The director of Recovery Road stressed how Isla Vista can be a dangerous place for opioid dependency. Although many people want to believe they can treat their addiction by themselves, rehab may be the best place to recover.

An interesting observation made by both a student speaker and the director of Student Health was that many students who abused opioids found in treatment that they had been self-medicating for underlying mental health issues. Perhaps if they had treated these problems earlier they would not have turned to drugs.

If you or anyone you know has a drug-related problem, Student Health offers free and confidential counseling; for appointments call (805) 893-3371. I think the most important thing I learned from the panel would be that when it comes to drug problems, Student Health isn’t trying to get anyone in trouble; the employees genuinely care about UCSB students and above all are there to help.