Letter to the Editor

Open letter from Northview principal

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dear Parents and Guardians of Northview High School students:

All of us who work with your children at Northview High School believe that we are entrusted with the responsibility of assuring that every student receives quality educational opportunities in a safe and supportive environment, which nurtures students' growth and development. When new social trends and other external factors rise to a level where they could potentially both prevent our students from being successful and have a negative effect on their health and well being, we believe it is our responsibility to alert you, our students' parents and guardians about these issues.

Because you as parents provide your children with the foundation they need to make good choices and to avoid those things, which may cause them harm, we are providing you with information, which will be helpful as you talk to your children about the dangers of misusing both prescription and over-the-counter medications. While we have seen an increase in the number of situations involving our students, research reports also indicate that the abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers is rising at an alarming level nationwide.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently reported that more teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug other than marijuana. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication, one in five report abusing prescription stimulants and tranquilizers and one in 10 teens has abused cough medication.

1.What kinds of medications are teens abusing? The National Survey on Drug Use and Health notes that stimulants, pain relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives are commonly abused by teens.
2.Where do teens get prescription drugs? Information provided by "Parents. The Anti-Drug," a parenting website sponsored by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, tells us that the number one source of prescription drugs obtained by teens is from home medicine cabinets. Other sources include the Internet, school and social gatherings, a friend or relatives' home and the grocery store and drug store.
3.What can parents do to prevent their children from misusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs? In their publication, "Prescription Medicine Abuse: A Growing Problem," the Partnership for a Drug-Free America states that parents should keep medications where teens can not get them -- not in the medicine cabinet where there is easy access. In addition, parents should talk to their children about how dangerous prescription medication abuse is. Teens should be told that taking medication which is not prescribed for them by a doctor can be just as dangerous as taking illegal drugs or drinking alcohol.

Dr. Michele Borba, internationally renowned educator, author and motivational speaker, notes that parents should keep track of the medicines on hand at home, avoid stock-piling over-the-counter medication, discard medication no longer used and monitor their children's Internet use. In addition to talking to your children about the dangers of misusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs, experts encourage parents to regularly discuss the dangers of all drug use with their teens.

Let children know that, should they be approached to buy or use any kind of drug, they need to tell a trusted adult. Telling a parent, a relative or an adult who works at their school is the first step in preventing young people from obtaining drugs in the first place. Information shared with school personnel remains confidential.

4.Where can I go for more information or help? Additional information can be obtained on the website for the Partnership for Drug Free America, www.drugfree.org, and on the website for "Parents. The Anti-Drug," at www.theantidrug.com.

You may also want to contact your family doctor, school counselor or school nurse.

We hope you find this information helpful. Working together, we can encourage our young people to remain safe, healthy and focused on success in the classroom. Our partnership will certainly help assure that the students of today will have bright futures tomorrow.

Yours in Education,

Timothy Rayle,

Northview High School Principal