Prescription Drug Misuse Lands Four Teens In Trouble

Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 7:25 pm
By: News On 6

Police say teenagers misusing prescription drugs has become a huge problem that keeps getting bigger and it's not just happening in big cities. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports the small Osage County school district in Prue suspended four teenage girls Tuesday for having prescription pills they'd received from a friend.

The principal noticed a girl acting sleepy and having trouble walking down the hall. She learned that the girl had received a Xanax pill from a friend. Three other girls had received them also; one more had taken it, two hadn't yet. All four of the students were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Osage County Sheriff’s deputies took the friend who gave it to the girls to juvenile detention.

This is the second year in a row Prue Schools had a prescription drug incident. Last year, the student who took the same drug almost had to be flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital. This time, two students with wobbly legs, were sent home. Officials say teenagers seem to think prescription drugs are safe because they're made by drug companies and have legitimate uses, but they can be just as dangerous and addictive as taking heroin or cocaine. That's why Principal Deborah Tennison takes the matter so seriously.

"We do worry for our kids because they're easier to get to, they're in their parents' medicine cabinets, it's easy access to them," said Tennison.

Police say they hear it all the time, a kid takes the pills from home or is given them by a family member then they take them to school and give them to friends. The most popular drugs kids are using are Xanax, Valium and painkillers. Kids see the pills help their parents relax or sleep and decide to try them and then decide to share.

"They're not typically getting them going down a dark alley or a drug house, they're getting them from the kid sitting in class with them, a classmate," said Tulsa Police Detective Joe Gho.

National studies show the number of kids using prescription drugs is on par with or even higher than the ones using illegal drugs. It's just a hidden problem that parents often don't realize is happening until something goes wrong, like an incident at school or even an accidental overdose.

"Number one; keep your medications in a safe place. Count your pills, and when you're done, if they're outdated, dispose of them properly," said Gho.

The girls who each had one Xanax pill on them face up to 45 days suspension. The principal says the girl who gave out the pills is really a good girl with a good mother. Tennison adds that kids just don't get how dangerous it is to take somebody else's medicine.

To find out more about prescription drug abuse, visit the The Partnership for a Drug-Free America's website.

To find out more about drug rehab treatments, click here.