By May 24, 2017 Read More →

Morrisey discusses drug addiction issues during visit to Brooke County

By WARREN SCOTT

The Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG, W.Va.  — While meeting Monday with representatives of area sch­ools and community agencies, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said a segment of the youth population that could be prone to drug addiction isn’t one they might have expected.

Morrisey discusses drug addiction issues during visit to Brooke County.
(Photo by Warren Scott)

Morrisey visited Brooke Hills Park to share information about the risk of high school athletes becoming addicted to prescription and other drugs.

He cited statistics from the West Virginia Board of Medicine and West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission stating 28.4 percent of high school athletes have used medical opioids at least once over a three year period, 11 percent have used an opioid medication for nonmedical reasons and nearly 25 percent who use prescription opioids also use heroin.

Morrisey said opiate-based drugs such as oxycodone and hyrdocodone, marketed as OxyContin, Lortab and Vicodin, have been prescribed for temporary relief of pain but can lead to dependence, accidental overdose, coma and death.

He’s asking schools and community groups to help him disseminate fliers encouraging parents to consult their health care providers about alternative pain treatment, such as physical therapy and over-the-counter medication, for their children.

Morrisey said when medical opioids are prescribed, parents should monitor their child’s intake of such drugs to ensure they are using the prescribed dosage and dispose of any unused medication through drop boxes maintained by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and others.

In cooperation with the DEA and others, several area law enforcement agencies have established drop boxes at municipal buildings and county courthouses.

The materials also include contact information for local substance abuse treatment services, including C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. and Healthways Inc. for Brooke and Hancock counties. Plans call for the materials to be given to athletes undergoing their required yearly physicals.

About a dozen educators, social workers and community members reflected on the drug problem and offered insight into its possible causes.

Emily Beall, a teacher at Brooke High School, said she once asked students in one of her health classes if they knew someone affected by addiction and about 28 hands were raised. Some cited a lack of parental involvement or parents who use drugs themselves as causes.

Tom Way, executive director of the Urban Frontier Organization, said educators and others “are competing with multiple screens,” whether they be computers, video games, televisions or smartphones on which they can find negative influences.

“Too many parents think as long as the kids are quiet, nothing’s wrong,” he said.

Some educators noted guest speakers have been brought in to deter youth from illegal drug use, but a few said too often their aim is building self-esteem while failing to stress the dangers of drug abuse.

Sean Blumette, assistant principal at Brooke High School, noted the school’s simulated workplace policy requires all students in vocational programs ranging from business to automotive technology to health occupations to undergo random drug tests.

Rachael Ferrise, project coordinator for Youth Services System’s Partnerships for Success, said there needs to be more communication between schools and agencies.

Following the meeting, Morrisey said there’s interest among faith-based addiction treatment programs in forming a statewide network that work together to curb the problem.

With input from medical organizations, he has launched a best practices initiative with recommendations to those who prescribe or dispense opioid medications.

Morrisey told the educators and others they shouldn’t become discouraged.

“The power of the people here in this room to infect (the youth) with a positive attitude can be phenomenal,” he said.

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