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Group raises awareness of prescription pill-popping

Hope Holmberg, Campus Editor

Students who are generous about sharing their belongings with friends should certainly think twice before sharing something that could land them in jail.

Sharing prescribed drugs with friends is illegal and can result in severe consequences.

Sgt. John Jones of the Oxford Police Department (OPD) said many students do not realize illegal possession of just one pill of Adderall is a felony of the fifth degree and can involve jail time.

Jones said the legal consequences for illegally possessing one pill of Adderall are actually more severe than the legal consequences for possessing an ounce of marijuana.

According to Jones, the drugs the OPD have found individuals illegally possessing include Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin and OxyContin. He said that Xanex and Concerta are also abused.

"Adderall, for the students, is the big one they tend to abuse," Jones said.

Jones said after an officer finds prescription drugs on a student, they ask them whether or not they can provide a prescription for the drugs and in many cases, they cannot.

"When people think of drug abuse, they think of illegal narcotics and they don't realize that things in their own medicine cabinet are drugs that can lead to health problems if taken illegally," Jones said.

Jones said people with addictive personalities can get addicted to prescription drugs.

"It's tough because you get people that are just addicts and they have an injury and are prescribed drugs but then the person becomes addicted to prescriptions drugs."

Jones said raising awareness about the effects of these drugs on campus in important.

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"They are legal so they are out there and can easily be diverted from their intended use," Jones said.

One organization that will be raising awareness about this issue is a new organization called NuRhoPsi. In January, the national organization of NuRhoPsi, which was founded in 2006, officially recognized Miami's chapter.

Chris Beeman, graduate student in the department of psychology, is vice president of the Miami chapter.

He said they have filled out all the paperwork and are waiting for Associated Student Government (ASG) to recognize them.

"Our main goals are to reach out to local schools in the community to increase awareness about neuroscience and how drugs effect the brain and to bring in outside sources of information to students from the field of neuroscience," Beeman said. "Outreach has always been one of my big ideals in my careers."

Beeman said one of the issues the club will focus on is how unsafe the use of prescription drugs can be.

"They can change or affect the anatomy of the brain," Beeman said. "They are prescription drugs for a reason."

Beeman said some ways they hope to raise awareness about this are through promotional materials around campus, forums and speakers who will talk about these types of drugs and their effects.

Zoe Hesp, a zoology and French major with a neuroscience minor, is the secretary of the Miami chapter.

"It should be addressed because people realize that even minor abuse of prescription drugs will have a permanent effect on brain wiring," Hesp said of prescription drug abuse.

Hesp said uptown Oxford would be a good place to educate people.

One resource that is currently educating students about this issue uptown is the mobile health unit, which is open uptown on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays nights.

Peer Educator Megan Becker, a senior dietetics major, said the mobile health unit has a pamphlet available about prescription drug abuse.

"There is a perception that it's not as risky as using other drugs," said Leslie Haxby McNeill, coordinator of substance abuse prevention and peer education in the Office of Health Education.

McNeill said the Office of Health Education has put together a series of informative posters about illegally using stimulant drugs.

At the request of the residence halls, two peer educators will come in and educate students in the residence halls about this matter.

"Generation RX" is the title of this campaign, according to McNeill.

Haxby McNeil said a panel of legal council, doctors, a psychologist and representatives from ASG will provide both forum for discussion and information about the illegal use of stimulant drugs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 21 in 322 McGuffey Hall.

She said during this public forum the panel will speak about the effects of illegally using the stimulants as well as both the legal and ethical issues surrounding it.

In 1962, The Miami Student reported on a three-part lecture series titled "This Nuclear Age." The lecture covered topics such as protection needed in case of nuclear warfare, damages expected from various attacks and the effectiveness of the United State's defense program. The lecture was given in the midst of the Cold War.