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Murrysville Lions Club covers the cost of drug tests

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 11:42 a.m.

A $300 donation from a local service group will help give Murrysville parents peace of mind when it comes to teen drug use.

Thanks to the Murrysville Lions' donation, Murrysville police will offer free alcohol and drug kits to parents living in the municipality.

“There is no bubble around Murrysville,” said Officer William “Buzz” Yakshe, student resource officer at Franklin Regional. “Let's be realistic and honest — the kids have money and the main route between Pittsburgh and Johnstown is Route 22. With the traffic that's out there, the drugs are out there.

“But if we can save one kid at a time, it's worth it.”

Murrysville police sell drug and alcohol test kits that can detect alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and heroin. Similar kits are sold at pharmacies across the region, but the police department offers the tests at cost — $3 for an alcohol saliva swab test, $4 for a urine-based drug test.

According to a 2012 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 52 percent of high school students know at least one friend or classmate who has used illegal drugs. A 2010 survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org found that 39 percent of high school students had consumed alcohol in the past month and 38 percent had used marijuana in the past year.

Yakshe said it's no surprise that the marijuana test kits are the most popular.

“It gives parents peace of mind that they can test their kids any time they want,” Yakshe said. “It gives the kids an out — when they go to a party and there's peer pressure to drink or use drugs, they can say their parents test them.”

Dave Parsonage, president of the Murrysville Lions Club, said that's the main reason why the group made the $300 contribution. While the Lions are most known for projects supporting the blind and eyesight conservation, the group also focuses on youth alcohol and substance abuse, Parsonage said.

“The kits are another tool that can be used at the discretion of parents in their own home, increase awareness and help kids be responsible and accountable for their choices,” Parsonage said. “By providing the drug test kits free of charge, it is our sincere belief and hope that more parents and kids will be better equipped to deal with the challenges of substance abuse — together.”

Yakshe said parents need to broach the topic of drug and alcohol use at a young age — as early as sixth grade.

“Parents need to talk to their kids about it — they're goiong to hear about it at school anyhow,” he said.“Parents need to sit down and open the communication line. You can't keep them in a bubble forever.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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