Students to travel to LR to demand action on prescriptions - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Students to travel to LR to demand action on prescriptions

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Craighead County Out of the Dark program canceled a Thursday trip to Little Rock to demonstrate on the capitol rotunda because of wintry weather; however, Skip Mooney, Junior said he plans a visit sometime this year.

More than 100 students with the Out of the Dark chapters at Jonesboro and Nettleton High Schools are expected to show support of a measure requiring doctors and physicians to track patient prescriptions, especially those drugs that are narcotics.

"We just want to know that just because we're young doesn't mean we're careless and doesn't mean we're going to do drugs," said Amy Flemon, Vice President of RADD, or Raiders Against Destructive Decisions at Nettleton High School.

Flemon said her fellow students believe doctors should be held more accountable to the prescriptions they write. According to Mooney, Arkansas is one of six states in the country without a statewide prescription monitoring program.

"I hate to see people who get addicted to things when they shouldn't be doing it in the first place. And if they can't get a hold of it, then they can't get addicted to it, then therefore I will feel better about myself because I made a difference," said Flemon.

"I think that they should monitor it, especially the ones that are very addictive," said Caroline Vaughn, a student at Nettleton High School. "Any way that the government can step in and help monitor our drug use, even if it is legal, it needs to be a step of action."

Vaughn and Flemon said they know how destructive drugs can be on their friends and their friend's families.

"With the stuff you hear in the hall or the stuff you hear in your off time, there are very serious problems with students that are addicted to different drugs," said Vaughn.

Out of the Dark was established by Mooney a few years ago. This is the first year the program has been implemented into schools in Craighead County.

"We learned about a week ago that there was going to be a prevention press conference at the capitol. Through that communication with some of our Out of the Dark chapters, we decided that we'd try to take some students to Little Rock and let them voice their opinions about some legislation that's coming up about some prescription monitoring," said Mooney.

Mooney said the kids that are participating are trying to be proactive in the community's drug problem. He said the state of Arkansas isn't following their lead.

"The biggest problem is our policies and how we've used it. Addiction unfortunately is an illness," said Mooney.

"There is some illness associated with this. The problem is we're still using the policies that were set up in the 30's and the policy is that this is a morality problem or a policy of criminality," said Mooney. "We've had this old attitude of let's just lock them up and throw away the key. And we have studies coming out all the time, we just recently heard a study come out about our prison system. This just isn't working."

Mooney said he believes lawmakers in Little Rock will pass legislation that monitors the purchase of prescription drugs, however he believes it will be a watered down version of the current bill. Mooney said several special interest groups have expressed their opposition of the bill.

"It's easier to turn your back, I guess it is, than to address the problem," said Mooney.

"When you got one out of four 12th graders reporting they have abused or misused pain pills for non-medical reasons and you have a big survey saying 30-percent of young people don't even think these drugs are addicted, we got a problem," said Mooney. "If the increase of addiction, chemical addiction, continues to occur like it has over the last five years, we're going to have a lot of zombies walking the streets."

Mooney said many people abuse prescription drugs by acquiring prescriptions from several doctors and pharmacies. He also said that's one way drug sellers get their products.

"You get overlapping prescriptions by doing that, and all of a sudden you have five different prescriptions from five different places. Now you've got a lot of pills to sell," said Mooney. "Hydrocodone is going for ten dollars a pill on Jonesboro's streets. That can turn into big money."

Mooney said more kids are expected to join in on the trip to Little Rock, and possibly more schools.

"Instead of being tough on crime, we need to start being smart on crime," said Mooney. "We need the doctors to be in a certain position to where they check somebody's prescription history before they're able to prescribe them a narcotic."

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