Eleven Adams County students traveled to Columbus on Wednesday, Jan. 27 to be recognized by members of Ohio Senate for their award winning essays on the dangers of opiates.
The essay contest, promoted by the Adams County Sheriff’s office, asked students to discuss issues surrounding the pervasive drug problem in Ohio.
“Our government has spent millions of dollars to treat and punish those who become addicted to opiates,” Sheriff Kimmy Rogers said, but they have yet to take education and prevention seriously”
The contest winners included students from all four county schools. Peebles High School winners were eighth graders Alisan Behr, Harley Steed, and Ashton Hester. Kati Fulton, seventh grade and ninth graders Ethan Staggs and Austin Black won the honors for West Union High School. Manchester High School winners were eighth graders Madison Payne and Melanie Thatcher. The winners from North Adams included eighth grader Taylor Ogden, and ninth grade students Logan Friemoth and Andrea Danner.
The students were accompanied by Sheriff Kimmy Rogers, Deputy Micah Poe, Laura Applegate – third grade teacher at PES, Collin Flannery-Junior High Social Studies teacher at Manchester High School, Shiela Brewer-Medical Asst. PHS, bus driver Carla Wesley, and from the First State Bank of Adams County, Ryan Brewer and Corey Richmond.
“It was great seeing these students being recognized by the state Senate. It really allowed them to experience what it’s like to be rewarded for your efforts,” said Brewer.
First State Bank presented the students with Certificates of Achievement and treated everyone to lunch at the Capitol Cafe.
During their visit the students were given an extensive tour of the capitol building. They also had the opportunity to meet and talk with several state representatives and senators before they were honored on the floor of the Senate Chamber.
“This has been a very special day,”said Alison Behr, the first place winner. Behr received a $500 prize for her essay titled the Dangers of Opiates.
The following are excerpts are from Behr’s winning essay.
“Opiates come from a flower, the opium poppy, but isn’t it ironic that something so monstrous is derived by something so harmless and beautiful. Opiates are narcotics that affect the opioid receptors in the central nervous system and brain. Prolonged use can cause irreversible brain damage. This can cause the body to lose the ability to produce natural opiates called endorphins. This can cause the body to become unable to manage pain when an addict attempts to quit the opiate. People can become addicted to the feeling of emotional well-being caused by the opiates, and to the euphoria of narcotics that can numb both the emotional effects of past trauma and undiagnosed mental illnesses. Illegal opiate use comes into play when the doctors stop prescribing opiates to their patients, and patients go through a painful withdraw, and the only option they see to stop the pain is by turning to illegal opiates, and in doing so open themselves up to heroin. Every day forty-four people in the U.S. die from opiate overdoses.
Over time opiates have changed society. Now, in our society anyone can become an opiate addict. All it takes is an injury and a prescription. Friends pressuring you to try it and family offering it. It just becomes another aspect of society. Opiates should not be seen as a little blemish on society, but as what it truly is, a growing epidemic. In Peebles alone you can’t go for a run without passing an addict of some kind, especially opiates. You fear for your safety because we know that these people, these victims, are desperate for their addiction, for their drug, for their opiate. Every country, every state, every county, every town, every village, every township, and every street have an opiate abuser of a rehabilitated opiate abuser.
We choose to ignore this epidemic, jut like society has. In my homeroom class, when we were told about this essay, barely any of us knew what an opiate was. Society has changed for the worse because of opiates. Just knowing the signs and treatment for opiate abuse can help steer our society into a brighter future.
I know that a single teen cannot change the flow of society, but a single essay can cause a domino effect. If even one person is affected by this essay and they change their lives for the better, and not become another statistic, than I have completed my mission. But, that one person can affect another and so on, maybe just maybe, we can change and evolve, and stop this epidemic from destroying us altogether. Saving our society from destruction by saving the forty-four people a day and saving 16,060 people a year. It is up to the new generation to stop the use of these dangerous opiates.”