By Tamas Mondovics
Burns Middle School staff and faculty said farewell to its eight-grade students last month, but not before a solemn reminder about the dangers and consequences of drug abuse.
Hosted by Hillsborough County Sheriff School Resource Deputy Roger Bradley, the event, known as Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE), consisted of statistics and commentary on the issues of drug abuse concluded with chilling, heart-wrenching stories of losing a child from a drug related incident.
“This is a highly impacting program that brings to the students the reality of what can happen if they ignore the warnings of using illicit drugs and abusing prescription pills,” Bradley said of the dramatic one-hour, in-school presentation.
NOPE event moderator Beth Butler got right to the point as she began the presentation, stating the facts and sharing the sad statistics with students, including a report stating that 183 people died in Hillsborough County in 2013 alone due to drug overdose. Many of the cases reported the combination of drugs and alcohol.
“We hope to encourage the students to stay safe,” Butler said. “Our goal is to share the emotional stories of those who have died as a result of drug overdose.”
According to the 2010 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey of 1,980 middle and high school students, nearly 52 percent said they have used alcohol on at least one occasion in their lives, another 26 percent indicated they tried marijuana and 8.2 percent took prescription pain relievers to get high.
The Partnership for a Drug Free America reported that every day 2,500 teens in the United States try prescription drugs to get high for the first time and 60 percent of teens who have abused prescription painkillers did so before age 15. Forty-five percent of those who use prior to the age of 15 will later develop an addiction.
Prior to its visit to Burns, NOPE also visited Durant High and Beth Shields Middle as part of its efforts to reach students at the County’s more than 100 schools to deliver the personal and blunt presentation, which includes officers explaining the grim task of making death notifications to distraught families.
It is noted that following most presentations, students often seek help either for themselves or someone they know. On June 24, 2004, NOPE became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, changing its name to N.O.P.E. Task Force, Inc.
For more information about NOPE, visit www.nopetaskforce.org