Seventh-grade students research and write about the dangers and consequences of opiate use
By Patricia Beech –
Seventh-grade students from Peebles, West Union, and Manchester Jr. High Schools recently participated in a drug- awareness competition aimed at increasing their understanding of the negative consequences of drug abuse. The event, sponsored by the Adams County Sheriffs Office, required students to research and write essays about the danger of opiates.
The “Danger of Opiates” campaign is the end result of Sheriff Kimmy Rogers’ effort to address drug abuse through education. Rogers says he believes authorities have been fighting the problem from the wrong end for too long. He and his deputies are attempting to get out in front of the problem.
“We’ve tried prison, we’ve tried treatment, and those things are important, but we need to reach out to young people through education to stop them from becoming victims of drug addiction,” he says. “These kids are the generation that will solve our drug problem – if we give them what they need to do it.”
Rogers believes that the first and most important step in fighting drug abuse is providing young people factual information.
“Before writing these essays most of the kids had no idea what opioids were, or just how dangerous they are,” Rogers says. “What they’ve learned will prepare them to choose a path other than drugs.”
Rogers’ idea is gaining ground in ever-widening circles – from local communities, to the county seat, to the statehouse, and even on to the halls of Congress. Given time, his prescriptive ounce of prevention may well prove to be worth more than the much-touted pound of cure.
Congressman Brad Wenstrup shares Rogers belief in the power of prevention and says, “I hope to tell people from my bully pulpit in DC about the job this man is doing and how others can do the same.”
On the last day of the 2016 school year Rogers, Wenstrup, and a group of other like-minded individuals visited each of the participating schools and spoke with the students.
“I was inspired by the students I met today who participated in the “Danger of Opiates” essay contest,” said Wenstrup. “The opioid epidemic is destroying lives in our own backyard, and I am encouraged to see so many bright, young students engaged and standing up to combat the epidemic through meaningful words because this is the generation that is going to solve our drug problem.”
Rogers believes educators are a critical component in the fight against drug addiction. Seventh-grade Language Arts teacher Erin Miller said that her students were very open to the idea of learning more about the drug problem.
“They are aware that drugs are a major problem in our community, and they did uncover information they didn’t previously know,” she said, adding, “We usually think of crystal meth or cocaine when someone mentions drugs, people often don’t realize that prescription drugs are a big part of the problem. That realization sank in.”
In her 2015 winning essay, PHS student Alisan Behr wrote, “Even if one person is affected by this essay and they change their lives for the better, and not become another statistic, then I have completed my mission. It is up to the new generation to stop the use of these dangerous opiates.”
“This excerpt from Behr’s essay expresses how each of us can help make a meaningful difference in the battle against this terrible epidemic,” Wenstrup said. “I agree with Sheriff Rogers, there are several stages from which we have to fight this problem – keeping it from coming across the border, asking doctors to be more thoughtful about the prescriptions they write, prevention, and teaching kids at an early age is what this is all about.”