Because the North Carolina Department of Justice noted prescription pills kill more people annually than any other illegal substance, and is specifically a problem among North Carolina teens, the agency is raising awareness about the drug epidemic by hosting a student video contest for the third consecutive year.
High school students across the state are encouraged to enter the Stop Rx Abuse competition; three winners will be chosen for top prizes.
In addition to the state contest, the Lincolnton Lincoln County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge will choose three winners from among Lincolnton High School students who participate in the challenge, according to School Resource Officer Jennifer Green.
“The kids really need to be educated,” she said.
Green brought up the topic of the NCDOJ competition at a recent FOP meeting.
She said officers with the group immediately jumped on board and opted to simultaneously sponsor a local contest among Lincolnton students.
Students have until April 15 to submit a 30-second public service announcement on prescription pill abuse among teens.
Top three area winners decided upon by FOP officials will be awarded cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50, Green said.
The top three contest winners determined by state officials with NCDOJ will receive a first-place prize of an Apple iPad followed by a second-place prize of an iPod Touch and an iTunes gift card for third place.
Winning videos will also be posted to the state agency’s website and social media sites.
Local FOP officers visited Lincolnton High School earlier this month to answer any questions students had about prescription pill abuse. Officers showed a video on the topic and offered current drug stats, Green said.
Over the last year and a half, the Lincolnton Police officer has worked as an SRO at the school, where students frequently discuss pill use.
“I haven’t witnessed it,” she said, “but I hear kids talk about it.”
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper offered his opinion on the matter in an NCDOJ press release issued earlier this month.
“Prescription drugs can be even deadlier than street drugs when abused,” he said, “and they’re much easier for young people to get. We’re asking students to use their time and talents to help us fight this epidemic by spreading the word about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.”
Other than marijuana, state officials said, children and teens ages 12 to 17 most abuse prescription pills, primarily because the medications are easily accessible from family and friends.
Prescription pills have also been a top concern the last few years for Lincolnton Police and Lincoln County Sheriff’s narcotics officers.
With each drug roundup the two agencies carry out from year-to-year, pill abuse ranks among the top charges.
Top prescriptions being sold and purchased undercover in the local community have included Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Xanax, Suboxone and Methadone, law enforcement officials said.
According to data compiled by the N.C. Center for Health Statistics included in the 2010 Health Study “The Burden of Unintentional Poisoning in North Carolina,” Methadone specifically contributed to more deaths and overdoses in North Carolina in 2007 than cocaine, heroin and other opioids and narcotics.
For more information on contest rules and how to apply or to view past winning videos, visit ncdoj.gov. For additional details on the local FOP chapter, visit the group on Facebook under “Lincolnton-Lincoln County F.O.P. Lodge #85.”