Drugs in school
Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2004
By By Arthur McLean Editor
Three students were taken to the hospital Wednesday after injesting prescription pills at Northview High School.
The students, who were not identified by school officials, reportedly took the pill Loritab, possibly in combination with other prescription drugs brought to school by one of the three students.
Two were taken by ambulance and one was taken by Lifeflight to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola after showing some adverse sympton and treated on a precautionary basis.
None of the students had returned to school by Friday, said school principal Gayle Weaver.
The school was locked down, with no one allowed to come in or leave for three hours, while Escambia County Sheriff's deputies searched the school for other drugs.
Several more pills were discovered during the search, said Jeff Van Camp of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Van Camp said the student who brought the pills to school could face felony charges, if the pills are verified to be a controlled substance. No information was available on lab tests for controlled substances Friday.
Weaver said the Escambia County (Fla.) school system has a zero tolerance policy for drugs of any kind and all three students will be dealt with when they return to school.
"We will follow the procedures set forth by the system when the time comes, but we won't make any determinations until we perform our due process," Weaver said.
The other students could face suspension or expulsion from school for the infractions.
Prescription pill abuse by students could be one of the most pervasive problems for students in the Escambia County area, on both sides of the state line said a school counselor.
Sheri L. Cox is a youth empowerment coordinator and counselor for the Escambia County (Ala.) school system.
"It's one of the biggest problems our kids face, because they can get it from home in many cases," Cox said. "It's small and easy to carry around in their pockets."
Cox has counseled a number of students in area schools who have had drug issues in normal school and are sentenced to alternative school where they see Cox.
"We have a fairly large problem with it here," she said. "We don't have hundreds of cases, but with the size system we have, we have a number of students with a problem."
Cox said most prescription pill use is actually found in middle school students in the Atmore area. "In many cases, because it's a pill, students don't even know what they took."
Local pharmacists recommend keeping close tabs on any pain killer type prescriptions, and getting rid of the pills you no longer use. "Once a year you need to go through your medicine cabinet and clean it out," said Jimmy Lynn of Greenlawn Pharmacy. "If you can clean it more, you should, but as a minimum you should clean it out once a year. Also, make sure that your medicine has child resistant caps on, it's not effective in this situation or dealing with older kids, but it will keep the younger children out. They do make a difference."
For more information about prescription pill abuse, see our expert opinion on Page 3 of this issue of the Atmore Advance.