WYANDOTTE, Okla. — Three Wyandotte Middle School students placed in the top three spots of an essay contest for the Northeast Oklahoma region sponsored by the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP).
Wyandotte Nation Tribal Police Department Chief Ken Murphy presented the certificates and cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 to the 8th grade students Friday afternoon. Chief Murphy sits on the OACP board.
Lauren Palmer’s essay was the top one chosen while fellow students Jessica Davis and Allie Spangler had their essays finish second and third, respectively. Each essay highlighted the growing problem of prescription drug abuse, which was the focus of this year’s OACP contest.
Palmer said prescription drug abuse is a statewide problem that keeps growing and growing. She said by writing the essay she hopes other teens will realize how bad it is and how dangerous, that it could possibly kill them. She said the message coming from a fellow teen may be more impactful than if it was coming from parents.
Chief Murphy said the girls did a great job of bringing the message to teens. He said Tulsa and Oklahoma City have the biggest problem with prescription drug abuse because they have the larger population concentration.
“But there is no community that is immune from it,” he said. “It has become a huge issue that is getting a lot of attention now and rightfully so.”
According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that Oklahoma ranked No. 1 nationally for nonmedical use of pain relievers for all age categories.
The study also showed:
- Oklahoma has been above the national average in all categories since 2004.
- 8.1 % of Oklahomans aged 12+ reported using painkillers non-medically compared to the national percentage of 4.8%.
- In 2009, 1.2 million emergency department visits were related to misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals – an increase of 98.4% since 2004.
- Diversion of prescription drugs is an enormous problem and has been spreading at an alarming rate the past five years. A conservative estimate of health care costs from diversion is up to $72.5 billion annually.
This year’s OACP essay topic was “Prescription drugs, if not yours leave alone.” The goal was to help raise awareness of the growing epidemic of misuse of prescription drugs. The contest was open to any eighth grade student in home school, private school or public school.
Winners were chosen in six regions of Oklahoma.