Touro pharmacists teach students about drug abuse

Vincent Tran, a second year pharmacy student from Touro College, explained some of the dangers of opioids and other drugs.
Photo by SIlvio Pacifico

Pharmacy students recently visited a Hunts Point school to conduct an anti-drug program.

On Thursday, March 2, 15 future pharmacists from Touro College of Pharmacy held the ‘Say No To Drugs’ program at the Hyde Leadership Charter School to educate more than 75 seventh graders and their teachers about drug and substance abuse.

During the program, the students learned about warning signs and symptoms of abuse for over the counter drugs, prescription drugs, tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants, pain killers and opioids, as well as mixing drugs and alcohol and dangerous drug interactions.

During the workshop, the students watched videos and engaged in various activities pertaining to drug abuse, including filling out forms and Q&As with the pharmacy students about their knowledge of drugs as well as how to become a pharmacist.

More specifically, the students learned some statistics involving substance abuse, including how many Americans die from drug overdoses annually, as well as how many Americans die from drug overdoses compared to those who died from a car accident each year.

“Kids need to know the signs and symptoms of abuse, and how to help themselves or their friends before they find themselves in a situation they can’t control,” said pharmacist Dipan Ray, director of practice experience at Touro, who also said that one in four teens nationwide believe that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid.

He also added that students in the United States who take prescription drugs are five times more likely to develop substance abuse problems that those who don’t.

“It is important for the community to know that while these prescription drugs are legal, sharing them is not legal – as these medications are not suitable for all patients,” Ray said.

Ray even encouraged all to participate in the Drug Take Back Program, an initiative that helps individuals properly dispose of medications they no longer need, without questions, instead of leaving outdated prescriptions in house cabinets. The program holds events bi-annually in each borough and every state.

The idea of Thursday’s program originally stemmed from the workshops the school had held with Project SUCCESS, another effective, school-based program that prevents and reduces adolescent substance use and abuse.

“We wanted to help young students understand how important this topic is, as well as provide them with knowledge about how much of an impact prescription drugs can have on an individual’s life,” said pharmacy doctor Ronnie Moore, assistant dean for clinical affairs at Touro. “The main point we wanted to get across was that just because a doctor wrote a prescription for a patient, that patient should not pass those prescription drugs to a family member or a friend, just because it is legal for them to take it.”

“This workshop definitely sparked the seventh graders’ curiosity, and I felt that the energy that our Touro students had made the day a success,” Moore added.

“This was certainly an informational eye-opening experience for the students, who were very engaged during the entire workshop,” said Eva Rubinoff, counselor for Hyde Leadership Charter School’s middle school. “In middle school, kids are prone to experiment and think about drugs, and we want them to be informed about drug safety as a preventative measure now and going into high school.”

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