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the Pony PONY Express EXPRESS

VOL. 29

GAITHER HIGH SCHOOL - 16200 N. DALE MABRY HWY - TAMPA, FL - 33618

Senior profits from self-started bakery business

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2012

Randi Embras bakes sweet treats and shares her favorite recipes with aspiring bakers, page 5.

sports

news - South parking lot closes permanently Students will no longer have access to parking lot, page 3.

www.ghsponyexpress.com.

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Interested in news and features pertaining to Gaither? Check out The Pony Express website at

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Photo courtesy of Devon Direnzo Photo courtesy of Devon Direnzo

Photo courtesy of Randi Embras

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The swim team welcomes a new assistant coach with big plans and high expectations for the upcoming season, page 14.

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New swim coach transforms technique

ISSUE 1

features

Prescription pills are latest trend in teen drug abuse Statistics show that one in every six teens admits to “popping pills” on a regular basis

Jackie Lawson

Editor-in-chief A common misconception among American teens is that gestation of prescription drugs, like oxycodone or xanax, is not nearly as harmless as consumption of their illegal counterparts. Recent trends have drawn startling conclusions to the contrary. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of teens who have died from prescription drug overdose and poisoning has increased by 91 percent since 2000. “Prescription pills offset what our bodies normally do by either giving more ingredients to the chemistry and allowing a different reaction to happen or blocking that reaction from happening. When you take pills not prescribed to you, your body is going to start to act a different way than it should,” said biology teacher Ettore Minutillo. It’s an epidemic unlike that of previous generations. Adolescents all across the nation are starting to use an assortment of prescription-level drugs – stimulants, opioids and depressants alike – as means to get high, self-medicate pain or even help them study for school. “I know of people who have taken Adderall to help them stay up late, get lots of work done or perform better on tests. After continued use, the side effects and withdrawal symptoms are really damaging to their body and mental health. It really messes with them,” said senior Savannah Zaworski. The increasing usage of these drugs is due to their easy access and availability. Adolescents are able to get away with swiping a pill or two here and there from a parent’s medicine cabinet without their knowledge. Some teens understand the risks of medication and take caution when consuming medication. “The only way I get medicine is through my doctor when I get it prescribed to me. I make sure to follow directions. If you use them the way the doctor advises, then that way they will be helpful to you.

It’s about balance,” said sophomore Emily Bayron. Modern-day medication is created to be beneficial to those who have illnesses the drugs are designed to cure. But when taken into the wrong hands, ingestion can prove to be harmful to the body and even potentially fatal. “What [teens] don’t realize is that they’re actually changing things about the chemistry of their body that could either cause issues in the future or it could build up and potentially even kill them. The body may not be prepared for that process to stop or increase and that could cause worse issues to occur,” said Minutillo. America’s adolescent generation has grown up in a culture where medicine is available to cure a wide variety of ailments. Therefore, some teens have developed the perception that usage of prescription pills is harmless. “I’ve heard stories about my peers being in situations where they are pressured into taking these kinds of drugs. I believe that people should try to find something else to relieve their feelings. I feel sorry for them, but they should realize that they are harming themselves and putting their lives at risk,” said freshman Kate Alava. Statistics from The Medicine Abuse Project have shown that approximately 90 percent of addictions start in the teenage years. And one in every six teens admits to regular use. Introduction to these kinds of drugs typically starts off as a casual encounter in a low-key setting – at a party, friend’s house or elsewhere. Teens are influenced into popping pills by peer pressure and an overwhelming desire to fit in with the crowd. “In high school, there will definitely be people who will try to influence you into taking these substances. The best thing to do in that kind of situation is to be strong and stay away from the pressure to conform,” said senior Allan Romero. Many who decide to consume prescription medication justify their actions through the reasoning that since others

take them, they are likely harmless. “I think prescription drugs can be helpful, but if you use them in a way you shouldn’t, then it could cost you your life,” said junior Luis Toro. The reality is that these medications are not to be played with – the number of teens using Rx drugs has increased dramatically. “It’s a tough problem and the way to combat it is to be aware of just how dangerous these pills can be and how many lives are affected daily by ignorance,” said Romero. As difficult as the problem may seem to counteract, there are groups working intently to fight the dilemma. The Medicine Abuse Project, sponsored in part by www.drugfree.org and CVS Pharmacy, is dedicating the week of Sep. 23 – 29 to raising awareness of the severities of prescription drug addiction. Students interested in taking part of the project can sign up to pledge their support.

**Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is addicted to prescription drugs, please call the Substance Abuse 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800622-HELP.

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