Keeping prescriptions out of schools

Clinton saw two students taken to the hospital last week

Clinton, Iowa - It's not the type of lesson the Clinton Community School District was hoping to teach, but drug abuse is on the minds of many in the city. 

The superintendent says December 14 and 15, each day a Clinton Middle School student had to be taken to the hospital after they swallowed prescription pills and had a bad reaction.

They're pills that made it to the school after students brought them from home.

While the students are doing well now, the school and community are now taking steps to keep it from happening.

Clinton Community School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy said, "This is a wake-up call and not just for the school but for the community to say you know, it's here. We really need to be talking to our kids about the abuse of these prescription drugs."

In the wake of sending two students to the hospital, the Clinton Community School District sees now as the time to be proactive to reduce prescription drug abuse in school.

DeLacy said, "I think this is an opportunity to be very proactive along with the community to really kind of reflect because a lot of this is coming into the school, so obviously the access to these prescription drugs are at home. Somehow these students are getting access to it and bringing it to school."

A study of students by the Clinton Substance Abuse Council found while prescription abuse often lags behind marijuana and alcohol… students can still find themselves with easy access to pills written for a legitimate need often put out of sight and mind once no longer required.

Clinton Substance Abuse Council Ex. Dir. Kristin Huisenga said, "Parents are the best people to get this information to. We want to prevent it before kids start abusing or using medication how they shouldn't be

That prevention starts with where the pills are being stored at home.

Huisenga said, "First of all, we want parents to keep that medication safe. Lock it up in you own home. Keep it somewhere nobody has access to it. A bathroom is not a good place because not only do your kids have to that but anybody that comes to your house."

If those drugs are no longer needed, it's advised to get rid of them before they fall into the wrong hands. 

That's why the school and community organizations addressing the issue are working to answer any questions parents might have. 

DeLacy said, "Make sure schools or any other place where youth are at are safe places for kids."

The district is also providing resources for students and staff at the school. 

More counselors are on hand, therapy dogs and educational resources.

The school also faces some limitation on what types of actions they can take to address pharmaceuticals being brought into the school.

DeLacy said, "Not going to have a blanket search to do that so obviously when we get information that gives us reasonable suspicion and then we can conduct searches but in terms of us just doing a blanket search, that's illegal in the state of Iowa."

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