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OxyContin is becoming drug of choice for Northern California teens

To Michael Gomes and his friends at Granite Bay High School, booze and pot seemed almost quaint. The powerful painkiller OxyContin was their drug of choice.

Kayla Platsis of Elk Grove and her friends took oxy, too. At school and work. At concerts. At rave parties.

"It's just a little pill," said Platsis, 23. "You take it, and you're high in 15 minutes. The high is amazing. It feels like someone is hugging you from the inside out."

OxyContin, a highly addictive narcotic that doctors prescribe to treat chronic pain, has hooked the "Just Say No" generation. Across the country, it has become a party drug favored by young, often middle-class people, and the trend is exploding in Northern California.

"This is a generation of kids that said 'No' to marijuana and heroin," said Jin Tanaka, a special agent in Sacramento with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement in the California Department of Justice. "We didn't teach them about prescription medications like OxyContin. They think it's OK because a doctor can prescribe it. Then they become addicts."

Tanaka and local police and sheriff's officials said they cannot accurately estimate how many young people are abusing medications like OxyContin. "But it's a big problem," Tanaka said, with teens and young adults stealing the drug from family members, forging prescriptions and buying it on the streets. "This past year is the worst I've ever seen."

Meanwhile, treatment centers in the region are seeing more young adults addicted to oxy's insatiable rush.

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