Photo and story by Daniel-Shaw Remeta / Contributing Writer
An Adderall and opioid abuse awareness event took place Tuesday inside the Middle Tennessee State University Science Building atrium. The event focused on the misuse of Adderall and opioids among college students and emphasized the seriousness of prescription drug abuse across the nation.
“One of the things we’re doing today is talking about how Adderall, if it’s not prescribed, or if someone exceeds the dose they are supposed to, can speed up the heart and cause Arrhythmias,” said Brendal Hurst, a University of Tennessee Health Science Center student pharmacist and leading organizer of Tuesday’s event. “You could potentially die from the heart issues that it causes.”
Hurst made a point to emphasize the importance of knowing exactly what is being put into the body when taking prescription medications and why prescriptions shouldn’t be shared with others.
Generation Rx, a subcommittee of the American Pharmacist Association Foundation that focuses on drug awareness and misuse, organized the event. An informational display with facts about prescription drugs was set up for students to learn about the severity of the nationwide prescription drug issue, as well as a bowl of Starbursts to serve as a real-life representation of a bowl of pills at a “skittles party.”
“(A skittles party) is where kids will go and get medication out of their house or parents house, and they’ll have a party where they’ll put them all into a bowl and pick out a handful,” Hurst said. “We chose to use Starbursts, and they each correlate to a specific drug. So, we’re handing out information about which ones cause what interactions and what each one does by itself.”
The subcommittee aims to educate people of all ages about the potential dangers of misusing prescription medications. They decided to organize the event due to the fact that the issue is often seen as unimportant.
Eric Eyre, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently spoke at MTSU as a part of the MTSU Pulitzer Prize lecture series. Eyre, through his investigative work, revealed the thousands of opioids that were being shipped to small-town pharmacies and “pill mills” in West Virginia. Eyre works as a statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and said that he was drawn to the opioid crisis due to the drastic influence it has had on the people of West Virginia and the rest of the country.
Prescription medications are among the most abused substances in the United States and have become increasingly more common on college campuses across the nation. Studies have shown that the average age when prescription drug abuse starts is approximately 21, and about half of all college students have the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug by their sophomore year.
“The issue of prescription drugs are so often overlooked because when people think of drugs, they think of street drugs,” said Josiah Walker, an MTSU senior and music business major. “They don’t realize that prescription pills can be just as deadly, if not more deadly than some illegal drugs.”
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