HILLSBORO, OR (KPTV) - School resource officers are warning parents to be aware and vigilant of teens' misuse of prescription drugs this summer, after a high-profile overdose at a local high school.
In early May, five students at Hillsboro High School were rushed to the hospital after overdosing on what county health workers later identified as drugs belonging to the Benzodiazepine family.
Common brand names for Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.
"Kids are bringing them to schools, and they are using them," said Sgt. Brian Wilber, a Hillsboro Police Department school resource officer.
Right now, there's no reliable data to show how often the drugs are being used by teens or found in schools, but Wilber said he and his fellow officers are seeing and hearing about them more than they have in the past.
"If they’re yellow, they’re called 'school buses.' If they’re green, they’re called 'hulks.' So if parents are hearing words like this, or teachers are hearing words like this, or other students that don’t know, that’s what they’re talking about," said Wilber.
So far this year, there have been 365 calls made to OHSU's Poison Control Center involving Benzodiazepines.
There were 895 such calls in 2018.
Making things more dangerous is the fact that the pills may not be what they appear to be, because of the emergence of counterfeit pills sold by street-level dealers, who crush up pills and add other substances to them to enhance the high.
The pills are then re-configured using a pill press.
"Counterfeit pills are out there. And they look exactly like the real thing, but they've been found to contain any number of dangerous drugs such as Fentanyl, which has led to overdose and deaths," said Dr. Christina Baumann, the Washington County Public Health Officer.
Wilber said parents should reach out and talk to their kids about prescription drugs, and the dangers of abusing them.
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