State AG returns to Elizabeth Forward for Rx abuse talk

| Saturday, March 17, 2012

State Attorney General and Elizabeth Forward High School graduate Linda Kelly brought a message of preventing prescription drug abuse to her alma mater Friday morning.

Kelly, a 1969 grad, and other members of her office conducted assemblies in the auditorium for the recently created education program 'Consequences: Rx Abuse.'

The program featured various drug-related statistics, a question and answer portion, and a video of a man who said he lost many friends and nearly his life to drug abuse.

Three in 10 teens think prescription painkillers aren`t addictive, and each day 2,500 teens try prescription drugs to get high for the first time.

Students listened as Kelly and senior supervisory special agent Richard Sheheen discussed how their decisions have an impact later in life.

'We don`t do it just for fun. We do it because we know that you are our greatest commodity,' Kelly said. 'You represent our future. You`re our greatest natural resource. You`re our greatest source of energy. We want you to be aware of these things, and get that good shove-off at this point in your development just like I did when I was at Elizabeth Forward High School.'

'Too many young people here end up not thinking about these consequences,' Sheheen added. 'Once an addict, always an addict. You`re always in a state of recovery. I want you to have all your wits about you.'

Kelly and Sheheen talked about pill parties, where people have bowls of different medications and take narcotics at random. They also discussed the legal ramifications of prescription drug abuse.

'It is a crime, when a medication is prescribed to you, to provide it to somebody else,' Sheheen said. 'Whether you gave it to that individual or sold it. Also, you just heightened your exposure by having those pills in the school. If that type of transaction happened here, you heightened your exposure to further criminal prosecution.'

Sophomore Patrick Suss and freshman Josh Tarr said the attorney general`s visit made an impact.

'It shows that someone actually cares about us,' Patrick said. 'Drugs can actually be abused, and people can get hurt easily from them.'

'Prescriptions (can be) just as bad as crack or heroin,' Josh said. 'When you think of bad drugs you think of (crack or heroin). You don`t think of stuff like (prescription medication). You think that stuff is no big deal.'

Both said the program could also be taught to students in other grade levels to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse.

'I try to convey to them that no individual knows where their life`s journey is going to take them,' Kelly said. 'It is significant to me to come back here and be able to say that because this is where I began.'

Elizabeth Township police Chief Robert McNeilly said prescription drug abuse is a big problem.

'We did have one overdose last year,' McNeilly said. 'Somebody overdoses on prescription drugs. He was a senior here. I think they said he was two weeks away from graduation.'

McNeilly said Friday`s program will help many students.

'I think it had a great impact here because she was an alumni,' he said. 'She sat in one of these audiences decades ago, and not knowing where her life`s journey was taking her, and she ends up in the attorney general`s office. I guess a lot of these kids need to know there`s a lot of possibilities out there. Absolutely everything rests on their personal decisions.'

The Consequences program will be rolled out in schools across the state. Presentations are available, free of charge, by contacting the Attorney General`s Education and Outreach Unit at 800-525-7642 or by emailing .

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