A Letter in the March 25 Tomahawk Leader:
Your March 18 story on the drug bust at THS brought back memories of my own years at THS. Yes, pot and beer were prevalent even in the late 70's. But no one I knew took addictive prescription drugs for fun. The discovery of Vicodin in the recent raid underscores how times have changed.
Parents in the know are not surprised. None of us should be. Most of us have been prescribed pain meds and almost all of us know a child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. We have become our children’s drug suppliers.
According to some authorities, the use of prescription drugs among teens may now surpass marijuana use. Vicodin, Adderall, Oxycodone and Ritalin are used recreationally by the athlete, the A student and the babysitter. They are used by your children’s friends.
I know this personally. My son’s best friend, a popular three sport athlete from a great family, began using Vicodin when the boys were high school juniors. After a stint in rehab, the friend was turned on to heroin, often the follow-up drug of choice.
The friend is now recovering well with the help of his friends and family, but the shock of Vicodin trafficking in our small-town schools was felt throughout our close-knit community and among my friends.
My son and daughter are now collegiate athletes. Both have shared stories about friends who have been approached to sell their prescription pain killers after surgery for sports injuries. One friend, returning from surgery had been back on campus for less than an hour when he got a call from another student looking to buy the friend’s Vicodin.
My children have talked about how Adderall and Ritalin have become the preferred study drugs of choice among many high school and college students. Their statements are bolstered by recent student surveys at the Universities of Michigan and North Carolina, one of which estimates there are more non-prescribed users of the drugs than legitimate users.
Ironically, in this era of helicopter parenting it seems the only people who aren’t aware of prescription drug abuse by teens are parents. By staying connected with our children we can engage them in open dialogue about drug use and abuse. We can offer them a safe place to turn if a friend is in trouble. More importantly, our engagement will let them know that we will be there for them personally should they ever need our help.
And toss out that old prescription.