Parents invited to ‘Red Zone Rally’ against prescription drug abuse

COUNTY — A report by the South Carolina Inspector General has prompted educators and doctors to rally together against prescription drug abuse.

The Pickens County School District, the Pickens County Drug Abuse Alliance, and the Step it Up Coalition of Behavioral Health have teamed up to present the Red Zone Rally against prescription drug abuse on April 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pickens High School Auditorium.

In a recent report Patrick J. Maley, the Inspector General for South Carolina noted that Pickens County has an unusually high number of deaths associated with prescription drug overdoses. In 2011 South Carolina had a total of 225 deaths as a result of prescription drug overdoses; Pickens County accounted for 18.05 percent of that total, which is what puts the county in a “red zone.” The Red Zone Rally will give parents information on how to protect their children from falling victim to prescription drug abuse and how to spot the warning signs.

“Most of the issues that we deal with at the school level regarding drug abuse result from students who have taken prescription drugs. We have more cases of students who are under the influence of lortab, oxycodone, and other strong pain-relieving drugs than cases of marijuana or other recognizable ‘street drugs,’” said Marion Lawson, principal at Pickens High School.

“What we see is that students who abuse drugs often steal prescription drugs from their parents or grandparents and attempt to sell them or use them themselves.”

A panel of leaders including the Inspector General will be on hand to discuss the issue and answer questions. Dr. Jim Mahanes, surgeon and founder of the Prescription Narcotics Task Force, which is now a coalition known as the Pickens County Drug Abuse Alliance, is also one of the speakers.

“The numbers are alarming and this recent report from the Inspector General indicates that our community has a prescription drug abuse crisis,” Mahanes said.

“Dr. Mahanes has long been a supporter of PHS, and serves on our school improvement council,” Lawson said. “Pickens High gladly took the opportunity to participate along with Dr. Mahanes and the Step it Up Coalition in hosting this event.”