Parents Worried over Drugs, Alcohol at Freshman Campus; Prescription Drug Use New, Real Concern

When it comes to drugs, alcohol, partying and high school kids, it’s something schools districts across the country deal with – and the Snoqualmie Valley is no exception.

As a parent you do your best, try to stay plugged in and hope all those conversations with your children over the years paid off. BUT as a parent, it’s also important to know what you’re up against – what ‘partying’ trends have infiltrated your community.

In the Snoqualmie Valley, some parents and students say along with marijuana and alcohol use (including while at school via pot FCsmoking in restrooms and liquor in water bottles), prescription drugs have also made their way into the high school scene – with an alleged large concentration at the Freshman Campus – including Oxycontin, ADHD meds and Xanax. According to some, Xanax is the new, popular trend and often attained from inside the home or through students’ own prescriptions and then traded.

Parent Rachel Mark is very concerned and feels 9th graders and the Freshman Campus are the hotbed of this drug and alcohol use. She’s so concerned that she started a social media topic on the issue, which has engaged many local parents who concurred that they’d also heard about the 9th grade/Freshman Campus issue.

Mark said she has spoken with several parents of 9th graders about what’s happening and said “it is very apparent and extremely disturbing about the amount of drug and alcohol use and abuse amongst our freshman.”

She confirmed what other parents have also mentioned – that a  large number of students are using or have tried smoking pot, drinking alcohol, vaping, and taking prescription narcotics – and says she’s even heard about alleged cocaine use. Mark said a lot of the activity is occurring outside of school, but also at the campus itself, with some kids getting caught and punished and others getting away with being intoxicated or high at school.

Mark’s social media topic sparked a debate from parents about what to do about the issue. Parent Lisa Whitcomb-Wiess commented that drug use/prevention is an important topic and thinks “more parents need to open their eyes when it comes to what is going on with their kids.” She also thinks the issue should be tackled both at home and at school – and doesn’t want “the school take all the heat for something that doesn’t start there.”

Parent Anne Davidson said parents need to be aware, that some of the drinking and drug use started before 9th grade – and that parents need to lock up their alcohol and prescription drugs. But most importantly, parents need to keep talking to their kids and expose them how drug and alcohol abuse can ruin their lives.

Law Enforcement Response to Concerns

When asked about the concern of parents over drugs and alcohol in local schools, Snoqualmie Police Captain Nick Almquist said [via email], “These issues are very concerning, yet not surprising.”  He explained that law enforcement has seen alcohol and drug trends come and go over the years.

Dealing with drugs inside of schools isn’t always easy for law enforcement either. Captain Almquist explained that it’s very difficult to carry over police strategies used for dealing with drug houses or cases outside of the school realm, saying these strategies are not “conductive to a school setting” where minors are involved.

On February 9th the Snoqualmie Police Department said it was planning to work with the school district to create messaging on the topic for students and parents.

The Snoqualmie Valley School District did not comment about these concerns when asked. A source inside the district said teachers at the Freshman Campus are aware of the issue this year, with some student suspensions and expulsions happening over the past month.

Prescription Drug Abuse Stats, Dangers

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2014, 27.0 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, or about 1 in 10 Americans (10.2 percent). This 2014 percentage was higher than those in every year from 2002 through 2013, apparently driven by marijuana use and the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, with 22.2 million current marijuana users aged 12 or older and 4.3 million people aged 12 or older who reported current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), abuse of prescription drugs (opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants, anti-anxiety meds) affects young adults the most, with about 6% of 12-17 year olds and 12% of 18-24 year olds reporting the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

Research shows younger people turn to prescription drugs for many reasons, including to get high or because they think the stimulants will help them studying better.

NIDA warns, though, that prescription drug abuse is dangerous, reporting that in 2014 more than 1,700 young adults died from prescription (mostly opioid) drug overdoses, which is more than died from any other drug – including heroin and cocaine combined – and many others needed emergency treatment. In addition to the overdose risk, these prescription drugs are also potentially addictive.

What should parents do?  Here’s some Prescription Drug Prevention Tips:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home Monitor quantities and control access. Know the number of pills in a bottle or pill packet –  and keep track of refills – or your own medication, as well as for your teen and other family members. If you find you have to refill medication more often than expected, there could be a problem—someone may be taking your medication without your knowledge. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, be in control of the medication – and monitor dosages and refills. Know what prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are in the house and where they are kept to know if some are missing. Consider locking up prescription meds.
  • Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages. Make sure your teen uses prescription drugs only as directed by a medical provider and follows instructions for OTC products carefully.
  • Set good example. Follow the same rules with your own medicines.
  • Dispose of old or unused medicines. Unused prescription drugs should be disposed. As part of Washington’s ‘Take Back your Meds’ program, unused prescriptions can also be dropped at the Snoqualmie Police Station (34825 SE Douglas Street) for safe disposal.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Monitor Your Kids Social Media, due to the evolution of social media and apps like SnapChat, teens who use alcohol and/or drugs may share times when they are at parties or involved in related activities. SnapChat is popular medium for this type of sharing, as the videos and photos are designed to disappear quickly.  If you have younger children, pay attention to who they follow on social media, especially SnapChat, where they could be exposed to drinking/drugs via social media without your knowledge.

More information about Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs see the Partnership for Drug Free Kids Fact Sheet.

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Comments

  1. Stephen Kangas says

    Kids in nearly every home have easy access to prescription drugs…because they are kept in unlocked draws or cabinets. There are a number of inexpensive lockable medicine boxes available that parents can use to secure such drugs, small enough in most cases to easily fit inside a drawer or bathroom cabinet. I’ve even seen such lockable boxes that come with a timer that shows how many hours have passed since the box was last opened, giving yet another clue to parents if the drugs were accessed at a suspicious time. Just make sure that you secure the key(s) for the box, ie parent(s) should try to keep the key in their possession and not in the same drawer or cabinet as the lockbox, nor in another drawer or cabinet that the child can easily guess where to find it. Ask your pharmacist about these lockboxes, or here’s one of many online sources for these boxes: https://www.lockmed.com

    Another inexpensive way to help safeguard prescription drug access for those plastic bottles that capsules & pills come in from the pharmacy is to buy a timer cap for the bottle(s). These are often sold at the pharmacy where you get the drugs, and only a few dollars each. They have a timer on them that resets to zero when the cap is removed, and counts up in hours/minutes from when put back on. They not only serve as an aid to make sure that the last dose was administered when it is supposed to be…but also when dose(s) may have been taken out for purposes it’s not supposed to be used for. These caps are sold at QFC North Bend pharmacy (and other stores), and should fit bottles from any pharmacy as nearly all use the same standard plastic pill bottles.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that we have a good resource here in the form of the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network SVCN (http://www.snoqualmievalleycommunitynetwork.org) who have worked hard over the past decade on addressing the topic of teen drug abuse in and out of our schools. For example, they helped in the initial formation of the “Natural Helpers” groups within our schools years ago and which continue to play an important role of youth peer-to-peer training, role modeling, and helping kids get help on issues that can be related to drug & alcohol abuse. SVCN also formed the Healthy Community Coalition that meets frequently, composed principally of parents, business people, service providers, and others who collaborate on this drug/alcohol, teen suicide, and other issues that affect our youth and their families. It is that HCC that I want to point out here who needs more involvement from you, our parents. I’ve done a good deal of volunteer work for the SVCN over the years which included attending HCC meetings, and I highly recommend this resource as a means for parents to not only learn more about youth problems but to also take a more active role in advising and helping out the solutions. For more info and next HCC meeting, check the SVCN website or contact the exec director Laura Smith via the contact link there.

    • Renae Nanney says

      Hi Stephen – great response, thanks for taking the time to provide this additional information. While I am long ago a parent of a young teen, I am still deeply concerned over this issue. i would like to ask your opinion on an idea, and why it would not work. I suppose i don’t understand why as parents and community leaders we don’t take a more defensive approach to this problem, and tend to think it can be solved with talking. I realize we need to get at the root of the disease, but this takes time. I think of a this idea as a tourniquet – while parents work for the long term cure.

      So here is the idea, a mobile drug testing unit that moves from campus to campus – available to parents who suspect their children of drug usage. Not sure if you remember the old traveling book mobiles – a library on wheels (yes, I am older). Same concept. It appears that most drugs can be tested with urine samples – so seems pretty easy. The unit could be designed in a non-threatening way – to show that we care for our kids – but in a very public way. The problem seems to be hidden in the shadows – and bringing our attention to the public could have profound results.

      Again, just looking for your feedback as it appears from above that you know the subject well.

      thank you

  2. There are two FREE Guiding Good Choices classes starting next week provided by the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network. The class at Chief Kanim is full but there is still space in the class at Tolt Middle School (very short drive from Fall City). Please consider coming.

    https://guidinggoodchoicesrsd.eventbrite.com

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