Student overdoses warrant change


Graphic by Grace Willis

Data from MCPS

It’s 8 a.m., the first day of the second semester, and over the loudspeaker, Principal Jennifer Baker is lecturing students on an anti-drug campaign. While a heavy way to start a Monday morning, this is necessary. But the way this infesting problem is being handled is inefficient and, honestly, not working.

This year has been a rollercoaster for Montgomery County high schools. Around the county, overdose and substance abuse issues have been consistently occurring.

A major culprit of this problem is the highly dangerous drug, Fentanyl. Fentanyl has become a growing problem in the country but it seems as though this year the epidemic has hit high schools hard. Laced edibles, percocets and opiates, in general, have been circulating around school causing problems for many.

Here at WJ, edible-related overdoses have been an issue. Students have been carried out of school on stretchers multiple times this year after consuming edibles. The fact that this issue is hitting home is both terrifying and unsettling for many in our school community. It is clear that this is a problem and action needs to be taken.

Besides the quick homeroom lecture, few substantial approaches have been enacted to conquer this epidemic. School administration, students and the community alike need to advocate and educate on this issue to promote a solution for this issue.

Each year, students dread the homeroom lessons relating to social media, bullying, hazing, etc.

The lessons attempt to educate and inform students about the issues they are susceptible to but are typically ignored.

Students mindlessly click through the lesson while multitasking with homework or talking with friends, thus undermining the point of the lesson.

Another inefficient attempt at controlling this issue has been emails and letters home regarding the issue. This is faulty. It is difficult to ensure that all parents read or even see the email or letter, and in addition, not every parent will relay this information to the student.

While attempts have been made to educate and control the issue, the incidents are still occurring all over the county.

Monday morning, Jan. 23 at B-CC, two female students were found unconscious. They were found on the floor of the bathroom by two other students, clearly intoxicated. Immediately the witnesses called for help and the two were transported to the hospital in an ambulance.

With the common occurrence of these events and little change, it is evident that something more impactful must be done to control this issue, for the sake of students at risk.

Now, the administration is stumped on how to stop this growing problem. Unfortunately, it can be argued that there isn’t a clear solution. We’ve seen a similar problem with the AIDS crisis. People sharing needles and syringes were a huge cause of the spread of the virus. The solution then was to provide clean needles and syringes. Some may argue that this will only encourage growing drug usage but that’s not the case.

It was proven that once clean needles and syringes were provided, the growing rate of the virus slowed down immensely. People assume that addicts don’t care, but they do and will use the resources given to them.

Fentanyl test strips should be given out in homeroom. All students should have them. Now, we are aware that right now these tests are not easy to get a hold of, but if it’s possible, it should be done.

Along with this, it should be made clear that the nurse and other adults in the building carry Narcan, an overdose-reversing drug. Narcan was recently deemed safe to sell over the counter, thus making it more attainable. This new initiative should be taken advantage of in order to ensure safety for all students in the building.

Telling students “don’t do it” isn’t the solution. It’s lazy and ineffective. However, giving students a way to be safe and make sure they’re not accidentally consuming fentanyl could be extremely beneficial for the school and county.

This epidemic is serious and it causes harm to those in the community. In order to combat this problem it is imperative that substantial solutions are made to prevent this problem from causing more destruction than it already has.