Thursday, November 7, 2013
What is the fastest growing drug of choice among teens?
The most common answers tend to be marijuana and alcohol. However, it turns out the answer is prescription drugs.
“I was surprised, because I didn’t see that here at North Augusta High School,” said Jane Kaplenski, the school’s guidance director, reflecting on a poll that had been taken years ago. “Today, we are starting to see it here. Nationwide, the abuse of prescription drugs is growing, and it’s scary.”
Last Tuesday, the school called a Bright Ideas Cafe Parent Night. The topic of discussion was not only about prescription medication, but also the other issues facing teens in today’s world. The Aiken Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Services partenered with the school to help put on the event. Speakers included Alphia Dunbar, the center’s director of prevention services, Sgt. Aaron Fittery with North Augusta Public Safety, Stephen Ryan with the 2nd Judicial Circuit Alcohol Enforcement Team and Amy Margaret McDougal and Cheryl Fischer with Aiken County Public Schools.
“Some students, not particularly at this school, but some of the other high schools, we have seven in the area, will get a little red, white or yellow pill from their friend,” Dunbar said. “Then they’ll take it because their friend gave it to them. They don’t know what it is – one guy took a red pill and I asked him how he felt. He said that his heart felt like it was going to come out of his chest.”
Fittery told the audience about underage drinking and the consequences it has on individuals and their parents.
“A lot of parents don’t realize that when it comes to your child using any alcohol that they can be charged, criminally, with what they are in possession of,” he said.
He also talked about social hosting, which is a parent having children over at their house under the age of 21, being supplied with alcohol.
“You can be held civilly liable and criminally liable,” he said. “Say you have a party before a football game on Saturday. Then you have your nephew come over who is 20 years old. You have a feeling he can handle alcohol if you give it to him and he sees you drinking a beer. Then you offer him a beer and he continues to drink and you allow him to drink and he leaves that night and has a collision and kills himself or someone else. The family can come back and sue you civilly and there’s also criminal laws involved that you may be liable for.”
Ryan said South Carolina alone does $200 million in business of underage sales of alcohol.
“We just went out, SLED and some other local agencies, and visited a total of 25 stores and actually got five sales,” he said. “When we send these kids in, they are 19 years old, we don’t give them fake IDs or anything. They just go in with their new driver’s license, which is vertical instead of the old horizontal ones. ... We do that because of this. Because it is a $200 million business.”
McDougal said the school district is continuously trying to work at the root of the problem.
“We want to thank you all here at North Augusta because we have offered the services of the Aiken Center,” she said. “Please take advantage of this, we are really happy to have this. .”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star.