Chouteau Students: Painkiller Addiction Is Deadly Problem
CHOUTEAU, Oklahoma - Hundreds of people die every year in Oklahoma from painkiller overdoses. The problem is especially bad in Mayes County.
The DROP drug task force was created to teach kids in middle and high school about the dangers of painkillers to try to drop those numbers in the future.
News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright has emceed each of those assemblies and today, they were in Chouteau.
She said, the kids in Chouteau wanted to show their classmates just how many people have died from painkiller overdoses in one year, so they created 725 luminaries, to show the impact.
Lance Lang, creator of Hope is Alive Ministries, told the students, “It took hold of my life. They grabbed me by the gut."
Lang grew up in Mayes County and told the students how one decision to smoke pot changed his life forever, as he went on to a year-long journey of addiction - using meth, cocaine, then painkillers, up to 50 pills a day.
"My parents begged and pleaded, please stop, we know you're stealing from your sister, stealing from your grandma, we'll do anything, just stop," Lang said.
Student leaders created a video to show how painkiller addiction can slip up on people who start using them because of a surgery or injury.
And, then, they asked a local funeral home to wheel in a casket.
"Now, picture 725 of these in the state of Oklahoma in a year. Every one of these comes with what? Somebody crying: a family, a mama, a daddy, a grandma, a niece, a nephew, a cousin, your best friend, so when we tell you guys we care about you and we tell you this is a huge problem, we need you to see the reality of it," Fullbright told the students.
The kids say a message like this matters because temptation starts early.
"There's a lot of peer pressure; don't want to make anybody mad," said sophomore Lori Beth Miller.
Drue Hendricks, Junior: "I feel it's important because of so many deaths, and we really want to stop that from happening.'
Senior Shane Jackson said, "It's hard for people to know the side effects could be from doing that opioid addiction."
The DROP task force has now done one of these assemblies in every school in Mayes County, but they are not done. They plan to do even more of them next year.