Chatham County Schools Public Relations Department
for immediate release
Nursing students from UNC Chapel Hill are teaming up with Chatham County school nurses and Chatham Drug Free in the spring of 2013 on an initiative to curb the illegal use and distribution of prescription drugs. Unauthorized prescription drug use among teenagers, ages 12-17, is an alarming trend that is spreading throughout schools in the U.S. Prescription drug use is a serious issue that poses an imminent threat to the health and safety of the students who engage in such activities.
“We, like other school districts, are seeing an increase in instances of unauthorized prescription use, particularly at the high school level. It is heartbreaking when young people make choices that can negatively impact them educationally, personally, and criminally for years to come. Having our school nurses and the nursing students from UNC undertake this project is a model for a team effort necessary to educate our students and help them understand the seriousness of their decisions,” commented Superintendent Robert Logan.
The nurses and nursing students are introducing the material by way of class-wide assemblies at each of the four high schools in the district. The assembly dates are February 5 (Northwood), February 19 (SAGE Academy), February 26 (Chatham Central), and April 2 and 9 (Jordan-Matthews).
By adopting a teaching plan set out by Dr. Drew Pinsky, called Smart Moves Smart Choices, the school nurses have established a curriculum that can be presented in an efficient and timely manner. The ultimate goal is to convey the message that using prescription drugs for anything other than their intended purpose are not only illegal, but incredibly dangerous. The intervention is targeted at this age group because, as Dr. Drew says, “Now is when your life trajectory is set.” Along with highlighting the negative impacts to health, this program will address the long-term legal consequences of being charged with a prescription drug offense.
“This is not a casual issue,” says Dr. Drew when commenting on the manner in which our society regards prescription drugs.
Studies cited in the Smart Moves Smart Choices curriculum show that 41% of students in this age group believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs such as cocaine and heroin, while 64% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or relatives. These alarming statistics are the foundation for the Chatham County initiative that will include community-wide education regarding appropriate storage and disposal of unused prescription medication. Additional information will be disseminated via tabletop flyers for the high school cafeteria tables, periodic updates on the student’s computers, and school system blogs for question and answer opportunities with the nursing students.
Submitted by: Beth S. McCullough, Public Information Officer, Chatham County Schools
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