The illegal and dangerous use of prescription drugs has increased over the years. It will take the community to battle this scourge of activity.
During a meeting of the Bradley County Parent Advisory Council Monday at Ocoee Middle School, members were told by many that parents need to be involved with their children and their friends, and give them alternatives to this epidemic.
“What we saw in numbers (of illegal drug usage) 10 years ago, now we see happen in one year,” said Scott Elam, chairman of the board for The Bridge, a local anti-drug initiative.
Elam quoted statistics that show Tennessee as the No. 2 state in the nation in drug use, and called Bradley County “basically, ground zero in Tennessee.”
He added overdosage is increasing as the misuse of drugs, primarily from medicine cabinets, increases.
He said at least 53 percent of the drugs on the street are coming from medicine cabinets, and asked parents and others in attendance Monday night to go home and check their pharmaceuticals to make sure they are still there.
Elam pointed to a recent two-day period where there were four overdoses in Bradley County, three of which occurred in one day, and one that led to the death of the user.
Bradley County Commissioner Bill Winters, a former principal at the school when it was called Bradley Junior High, said this problem is not an inner-city problem, but “it is where you live.”
“I am not speaking as a commissioner or an educator, but as a grandfather,” Winters said. “This is an issue that it will take a community to fight.”
He suggested having the issue be discussed at PTO meetings and other sessions where parents are present.
“This is going to be stopped by moms, dads and grandparents,” Winters stressed.
Guest speaker Chad Varga, a former professional basketball player, said “we have a bigger issue than you know.”
“Kids are exposed to so much at a much more early time in their lives, and you are behind the problem and need to be out front. Let your kids know you care about them,” Varga said.
Varga said “we are living in unprecedented times,” but children are still seeking the same love they always have.
“Be more than expected, because they are starving for people and attention,” he added.
He mentioned spending time with children, and doing things like have parties with other kids in their homes.
“These are action things that will touch that child’s heart,” Varga said. “Plant a seed in them that shows that they matter.”
The presentation Monday night was the fifth of the day for Varga. He will meet with other students in the local school systems throughout the week, and be the featured guest speaker at the Fields of Faith Wednesday at the Bradley Central High School football field.
Students from all local schools are invited to attend the event.