Community meeting on legal Rx opioid use October 23; LBHS, JRHS students join forces with BPC to bring awareness to the fight against abuse

Students from James River and Lord Botetourt High Schools recognize the growing problem with their peers abusing prescription medications and are joining forces with the members of the Botetourt Prevention Coalition to address the opioid crisis in the community.

One of the things they’re doing is holding a “community discussion” Tuesday, Oct. 23 and encouraging students and parents to attend.

“Since I began attending Lord Botetourt High School in 2015, I have seen an increase in the use of opioids,” said Noah Moore, a student at Lord Botetourt. “This startling trend has led the Botetourt Prevention Coalition to take action by addressing the issue on October 23. It is my hope that this event will raise awareness of a growing problem and better enable the community to fight against opioids.”

Last summer, students selected from both high schools attended a week-long conference sponsored by the Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project. Determined to address substance abuse in their schools, the students have developed student chapters and programs at Lord Botetourt and James River designed to educate their peers, overcome the stigma of addiction and provide easier access to treatment.

Students have been meeting with the Botetourt Prevention Coalition since July in order to collaborate on community programs and develop programs designed for their respective student bodies.

“Becoming addicted to prescription pain medications can happen so quickly, often before the person realizes what is happening,” said Jonah Bolton, a student at James River High School.

“Data collected from area schools shows that an alarming 62 percent of high school students believe it is easy to get prescription medications if they want some, and while the percentage of high school students who report trying heroin is down from 9 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2017, there is still work to be done,” noted Lethia Hammond, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Botetourt County. “Substance abuse is difficult to overcome and it is especially challenging when teens and adolescents become addicted.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Botetourt Prevention Coalition will host the community discussion for area students and their parents to raise awareness about the opioid crisis in Botetourt. Ray Sloan has provided the Botetourt Event Center located at 14860 Lee Highway south of Buchanan for the event venue. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program will last from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dinner will be provided and door prizes from local restaurants and shops will be given away.

The Botetourt Prevention Coalition is comprised of representatives from Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Care, The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, area schools, courts, government, churches, law enforcement, civic organizations and interested individuals. The Coalition is facilitated by Sheila Lythgoe, Wellness and Prevention Specialist with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Care.