Clover schools crack down on pill sales, abuse

news@enquirerherald.comMarch 29, 2013 

— Four arrests related to prescription drug sales at Clover High School last month have led to a discussion that has prompted a greater awareness of the scope of the problem, school officials say.

Assistant Superintendent Sheila Huckabee called prescription drug abuse a national issue, created in part by a lax attitude about the dangers of such drugs.

“Parents today have a little too much trust with those prescribed medications,” Huckabee said, noting that many don’t lock their medicine cabinets and that children can dispense the drugs easily.

The biggest drug problem facing Clover schools involves “students getting prescription medications from their parents,” Superintendent Marc Sosne said.

The York County Sheriff’s Office last month arrested three teens accused of making plans to sell prescription drugs, including Ritalin, oxycodone and hydrocodone, at Clover High School. A week later, deputies arrested a 17-year-old boy accused of selling two Adderall pills for $5 to a student, according to police reports.

Adderall and Ritalin are commonly prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Oxycodone and hydrocodone are powerful and addictive painkillers.

One of the Clover cases was discovered, Huckabee said, when a parent who had swapped cellphones with her child received a text message that read, “I will have the Ritalin at school on Friday.”

As a result of those arrests, she said, school officials began talking to students and learning about more cases of abuse.

“We started questioning kids, and they started coming forward and telling us,” she said.

During the 2012-13 school year, Huckabee said, Clover schools have reported 32 incidents involving drug abuse – including over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications and marijuana.

Many of those incidents were reported after the February arrests.

Over the same period, she said, York schools reported 14 incidents of drug abuse, while Rock Hill schools reported 33 and Fort Mill schools reported five.

York Superintendent Vernon Prosser said parents need to pay close attention to prescription drugs in the home and to dispose of drugs no longer being used.

“You really have to be cognizant of that, because there’s so much peer pressure out there to ‘let me try one of your ADD pills,’ ” Prosser said.

Children in middle and high school, he said, tend to be “impulsive and they don’t look to the future, of how one decision can affect them.”

Some children use prescription pills out of simple curiosity, peer pressure, a desire to “share the experience,” or to deal with stress or other problems, Huckabee said.

Students may sell medications as a way to make quick cash, she said, and many of them find drugs readily available among friends and family. That’s hard for school officials to detect.

Adam Moore, a Clover High School junior who attended a recent York County summit on prescription drug abuse, said he had considered marijuana more of a problem than prescription medications.

“It opened my eyes,” Moore said of his involvement in the event. Many students “think they’re invincible to the effects” of drug abuse, he said.

The Clover district has conducted successful sweeps with drug-sniffing dogs at schools and hosted awareness sessions for parents to talk about the problem, Huckabee said.

Moore said inviting speakers to talk at schools could help students realize that “maybe that could happen to me.”

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