To the editor: As a teacher who is responsible for daily distribution of prescription drug medication to students, I value the time I take to teach them to be responsible for the name of their medication and its benefits. However, every day, 2,500 teenagers nationwide use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. Most of these teens are accessing these drugs in the comfort of home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer, or medicine cabinet. In Osceola and Mecosta counties this problem is real, it’s growing, and it’s dangerous. Some of the lessons I include in my weekly plans involve knowing a prescribed drug medication is safe only if it is prescribed for you. My students do not have access to their medication unless staff is with them and unlock the closet where meds are stored. The student then reads their name on the medication container, staff open the container, dispense the medication, and verify they have taken the prescribed amount. It is the procedure of our school to document each day’s dosage, and each student has their own schedule to reference for the school year. Schedules in the home are beneficial for individuals taking medication, too. Taking a drug that was not meant for you is essentially abusing that drug. If you know of someone that is abusing prescription drugs, talk to them about the dangers. Over the past 10 years, I have used community resources to reinforce my lessons. Through Ten Sixteen and other organizations we’ve learned how prescription drug abuse has become the 3rd leading cause of people entering a drug treatment intervention program. Also, over 200 Michiganders have lost their lives to prescription drug abuse and more than 25 percent of drug-related emergency room visits dealt with prescription drugs. A large part of this problem is the misconception that prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs. Prescription drugs may not be safer than illicit drugs. Prescriptions are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. You can also help prevent prescription drug abuse by storing drugs in a safe, secure place; monitoring your prescription bottles; and disposing of expired or unneeded drugs properly. At the MOISD and Big Rapids Middle School, our liaison officer is part of a team that helps us to dispose of medication safely at the end of each school year. For more information on prescription drugs, visit
www.drugfreenorthernmichigan.com . Taking little steps like these could save a life!

Martha Jones

Reed City