Derby Middle School steps up anti-drug education efforts

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 2, 2011

BIRMINGHAM — Two months after two Derby Middle School students were treated for taking a combination of over-the-counter medication and prescription drugs for recreational purposes, the school has been educating students and parents about the dangers of drugs.

Shortly after the incident, Principal Deborah Hubbell began researching the status of prescription and over-the-counter drug use by tweens and teens, and was surprised by what she discovered.

“The statistics were astounding. This kind of substance abuse has overtaken any other use, including marijuana and alcohol,” she said.

To inform parents of her discovery, Hubbell wrote an article for her weekly e-newsletter on the subject matter and included a list of links that parents could go to for further information. In the e-mail, Hubbell asked parents to be aware of the contents of their own medicine cabinets, whether their children have access to it, and encouraged them to strike up a conversation with their children about drugs. She noted that there are several resources for kids and parents on the topic, including http://kidshealth.org.

“Another focus for parents was a presentation from the Birmingham-Bloomfield Community Coalition at the January Principals breakfast on Jan. 7,” she said.

Hubbell kicked off her efforts to educate Derby students about the dangers of drugs by meeting with student government leaders and discussing ways to educate and inform students.

The school’s latest anti-drug education efforts have included a classroom door decorating contest featuring anti-drug messages and having a guest speaker from Beaumont Hospitals talk to eighth-graders about the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs on Jan. 25.

“As you’re getting ready to move on to high school, you’re going to face different issues, and there will be different decisions that you have to make,” Hubbell said.

During the presentation, Lindsey Corbets, a pharmacy resident from Beaumont Hospitals, said 1.9 million youth between the ages of 12 and 17 abused prescription and over-the-counter drugs in 2008.

National studies show that today’s teens are more likely to have abused a prescription painkiller than any illicit drug, she said.

“Many teens are dying every year from prescription painkillers that their mom or dad take, their older siblings take, or their grandparents take, and it is a serious problem in this country,” Corbets said. “Before, you probably heard heroine, cocaine, marijuana, those were the dangerous drugs. Now it’s this stuff. These are the No. 1 drugs abused (by teens). ”

But that’s only the beginning of the school’s efforts to educate students about drugs.

“There are also posters throughout the building, and we are selling anti-drug bracelets to students,” Hubbell said. “In the coming weeks, further information will be given to seventh-graders during their health class in PE.”