January 21, 2010

Hidden drug problem plagues area schools

If you look at Mercer County’s biggest substance abuse problems one of the top three might surprise you. In fact, it might be sitting in your medicine cabinet right now.

According to Michelle Anderson, director of the Youth Bureau of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, after alcohol and marijuana, the leading drug of choice is prescription drugs among high school students. In middle school it ranks fourth, behind tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. The numbers were derived from a survey of students across North Dakota, but Anderson said they represent what she has seen in Mercer County well. However, the extent of the problem surprised her.

"Six percent of middle school students have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription," Anderson said. "In high school it’s 15 percent. I’ve been hearing in the community that prescription drugs were a problem. But I didn’t expect it to be that high. Prescription drug overdose is the third leasing cause of death for youth."


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