Lake Stevens has been given a big wakeup call when it comes to the recreational use of prescription drugs, especially by our teens.
The loss of Viking football’s own Tyler Reside has brought the drug problem to the forefront of every parents mind and to the community as a whole. Many in Lake Stevens are mourning the loss of the 18-year-old who lost his life just 10 short days ago.
Reside was a major player in the Viking football program before graduating in June 2010. He was seen at every football game this season supporting the team that he held dear. He is greatly missed by all who knew him and his tragic death was a shock.
Sadly, Reside’s story is not unusual.
According to the SADD’s (Students Against Drunk Driving) website 26 percent of teens know a friend or classmate who has abused prescription drugs. This statistic doesn’t include those who are drinking, smoking marijuana or using other illegal drugs.
Sixty-two percent (62%) of the nation’s high schoolers – some 10.6 million – and 28 percent of middle schoolers (2.4 million) will go to schools where drugs are used, kept, or sold. The statistics are staggering, to say the least.
The news of Reside’s death spread throughout the schools like wild fire. My son and his friends had heard about it on Monday. Reside had passed away only the day before. As a parent, I couldn’t waste this opportunity to talk to my kids about drug use and the tragic effects it can have on families and communities.
As a parent of a middle schooler, Reside’s death hit me hard, like a wakeup call to sit and talk to my teenager about the consequences of using drugs, even prescription drugs.
I found myself asking where teens get these drugs and why they don’t understand the consequences of taking drugs not prescribed to them.
TeenHelp.com helped answer some of those questions for me.
“Some teenagers think that because a drug is prescribed by a doctor, it is safer to use than illegal drugs. Unfortunately, this is not true. Prescription medications can be as addictive as any street drug, and when prescription drugs are used incorrectly, it can result in a variety of negative effects, including death,” the website states.
Someone also explained that snorting cocaine, smoking crack or even marijuana or shooting heroin isn’t as socially acceptable as popping a pill. Kids can swallow a pill in seconds and no one is the wiser.
We as parents need to take the lead in the fight against drugs in our schools. Teach our kids how to say no, when to let an adult know about drug use and where they can go for help.
Even Snohomish County sees the problems occurring with the illegal use of prescription drugs and is offering a program to help get rid of them without throwing them down sinks or flushing the drugs down toilets, which can adversely affect the environment.
“Drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington. The majority of overdoses involve prescription opiate pain relievers. Misused prescription drugs are the illicit drugs of choice among 12- and 13-year olds. For the first time among teens, there are as many new abusers of prescription drugs as marijuana abusers,” the county states.
Because of this, the county has started a pilot program where residents can drop off their unused prescription drugs and have them destroyed safely.
“To provide county residents with a free, easy, secure and responsible way to properly and securely dispose of unwanted drugs, law enforcement agencies and other partners have established prescription drug drop-off locations throughout Snohomish County. These law enforcement locations accept narcotics and prescribed controlled substances, as well as other medications,” it states.
There are currently 28 sites where you can drop off unused drugs. They can be found at www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Public_Works/Divisions/SolidWaste/TakeItBack/pharmsnoco.htm.
We will continue to remember Tyler Reside and pray for his family. We will continue to hope that the rest of our children learn from this tragic loss and that we will not lose another child to this preventable tragedy.