Upstate County Warns Parents Of Prescription Drug "Crisis" Among -

Upstate County Warns Parents Of Prescription Drug "Crisis" Amongst Teens

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In a home called Serenity Place here in the Upstate, residents like Rebecca Porter have found words don't always come easy.  "At first, I didn't want to be here," she says.  It took the 22 year old a long time to say why she's at the home in the first place.  "I have a problem and I do need help," she says. 

The young mother of three took her first pain pill when she was 17 years old.  She's been hooked ever since.  "After the birth of my middle child, they gave me a prescription," she remembers.  "It escalated to I had to have them, couldn't get up without em, at first it was the high, and after that I needed it, and I'd pretty much do anything I needed to to get it."

For Porter, the problem started early.  At nearby Pickens High School, administrators are noticing that trend.  "It's scary," says Principal Marion Lawson.  Lawson says he's been shocked at the number of students hooked on prescription drugs showing up on campus every day.  "We have more cases of those type drugs being used and abused on school campus than we do traditional street drugs, marijuana, meth," he says. 

Lawson, along with other leaders and medical professionals in the community, is determined to get the message out to parents.  "They need to understand what kids are getting into."  According to a recent South Carolina Inspector General report, 225 people died in the state from prescription drug overdoses in 2011.  More than 18% of those deaths occurred in Pickens County.  Dr. Jim Mahanes, a leader on the Pickens County Drug Abuse Alliance, worries that teens are most at risk.  "Teens know how to go into a medicine cabinet and get something they want, either for amusement or for self treatment," Mahanes says.

State health officials have designated Pickens County a "red zone" because of the problem.  The school district, along with the Drug Abuse Alliance are planning a "Red Zone Rally" for Monday, April 30th at Pickens High School.  The event begins at 6:30 pm.  Lawson says educating parents is key.  "Unfortunately when they get to high school a lot of parents just brush their head and say, whew, I'm glad they're your's now.   But they need to understand what the students are seeing and getting into."

As for Porter she believes it's a life or death message.  "I'd tell them that it will ruin your life, and make you lose everything."

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