Group presents Franklin Co. Commissioners with sobering statistics on drug use

October 02, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Drug prevention educators concerned that deaths from prescription drug abuse are higher than those from firearms are seeking to raise awareness about the issue.

Special Agent Craig S. LeCadre from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office joined members of the Community Coalition to share information about prescription drug abuse with the Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners on Tuesday. The commissioners contributed $10,000 for this year’s Red Ribbon Week initiatives.

Red Ribbon Week in late October will actually translate into about two weeks worth of assemblies for area school children. LeCadre and Community Coalition board members said presenting a consistent message to students is important, but it is just as important to educate parents about the problems.

About 80 percent of students raise their hands when asked if they know a drug dealer, and the vast majority say their parents do not lock up their prescription medications, LeCadre said.

“Attitudes really need to change here,” he said.

LeCadre presented a host of sobering statistics from a variety of sources. Among them were claims that one in five students has abused prescription drugs and the abuse of those drugs causes more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

“Females abuse prescription drugs 2 to 1 over males according to recent statistical data,” LeCadre said.

An elementary-age child from the Waynesboro Area School District recently was investigated for sharing Adderall, a hyperactivity disorder medication, with another child, Community Coalition officials said and police confirmed.

The problems being experienced in Franklin County are the same as those “from Los Angeles to Lycoming” County, Pa., Commissioners Chairman David Keller said.

The Community Coalition is a group of 100 volunteers representing various businesses and agencies. They seek to prevent substance use and abuse.

A youth survey found that Franklin County’s young people use a prescription that is not theirs at a rate higher than state averages, according to Becky Greenawalt, a member of the Community Coalition’s executive committee.

Some of the teens reported abuse of tranquilizers and stimulants, Greenawalt said.

In addition to providing education about prescription drug abuse, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office offers programs about Internet predators, gun violence, cyber bullying, drugs and alcohol, and crimes against senior citizens, LeCadre said.

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