Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2008
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Asbury Park Press
Author: Michelle Sahn
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


MARLBORO -- Township police are teaming up with the federal Drug 
Enforcement Administration, school administrators and the local 
municipal drug abuse prevention alliance to teach parents about the 
danger of prescription drug abuse by young people.

Nationwide, prescription drug abuse is a problem among people of all 
ages, and at Marlboro High School, there are students who are 
addicted to prescription drugs, Township Police Lt. Doug Van Note said.

"We noticed the problem in our school," Van Note said. "We're seeing 
kids who are actual addicts now. They have to take these prescription 
drugs in order to make it through the day."

The drugs also have been sold by students in school, police said.

Van Note said police and school administrators realize there is an 
issue and want to deal with it.

"We got together and saw the problem we were having, and we knew we 
had to reach the parents," Van Note said. "We want to tell the 
parents it happens in our town."

Jerry North, principal of Marlboro High School, said prescription 
drug use is not more of a problem at his school than it is anywhere 
else. But it is an issue that parents are not always cognizant of, he said.

"I think it's something that's (happening) all over the place," he 
said. "What I'm very happy with is, we have a municipal alliance and 
a police force (that) are trying to help the schools in the sense of 
making an awareness for parents."

The free program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. April 8 at Marlboro 
High School. It is open to parents of all Freehold Regional High 
School District students.

Half of the two-hour program will be a panel discussion with experts, 
including a local emergency room nurse and the high school's student 
assistance counselor. Two students will also be part of that discussion.

The other hour will feature DEA Special Agent Douglas S. Collier, 
whose presentation is part of a program called Medicine for Success, 
an initiative under the leadership of Gerard P. McAleer, Special 
Agent in Charge of the DEA, New Jersey Division.

While marijuana used to be the gateway drug to such narcotics as 
cocaine or heroin, prescription medicines have now become stepping 
stones to harder drugs, McAleer said.

Many parents have locks on their liquor cabinets, but no one locks 
their medicine cabinets, and young people are swiping tablets from 
their parents' and grandparents' pill bottles, he said.

Sometimes, young people know what they are taking; other times they 
don't. They bring the pills to "pharm parties" and share them with 
their friends, he said.

"We're trying to teach parents and educators to be cognizant of what 
the kids are doing," McAleer said.

The talks at schools are part of his office's larger approach to 
fighting the problem of prescription drug abuse.

DEA agents from New Jersey recently met with executives of 
pharmaceutical companies to explain concerns about the diversion of 
legitimate drugs, and agents recently spoke at a statewide conference 
of the New Jersey Prevention Network.

They plan to speak with pain management doctors at a conference in 
May, with pharmacists in the fall and with Drug Abuse Resistance 
Education police officers at their convention in April. The DEA also 
will hold a training conference in June at Rutgers University for 
local, county and state law enforcement.

They also plan to hold more talks at schools throughout the state this year.

Collier said prescription-drug use is second only to marijuana use 
among adolescents. Emergency room visits for prescription-drug use 
are up by 25 percent nationwide, according to statistics complied by 
the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

"It's an issue throughout the state and throughout the United 
States," Collier said, noting that his office is not targeting 
Marlboro or Monmouth County with the April 8 program.

"We just want to get out there and educate the families in the 
community and let them know what's going on," he said. "We're not 
there to scare them. We're just going to give them reliable, tangible 
information, so they can understand the issue." 
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