Touro Pharmacy Students Teach Bronx Middle Schoolers to Say “No” to Drugs
Early education is key
As part of a Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Education Program organized by Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP), students traveled to Hyde Leadership Charter School Academy in the Bronx to talk to 7th graders about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Vincent Tran, president of the student chapter of Pharmacists for Public Health (PPH) and one of the event organizers, shared his thoughts on this important program.
Why were you meeting with the 7th graders? What was your overall goal?
Our goal was to educate the students on the dangers of prescription drug abuse—to teach them about the dangerous side effects when drugs are used inappropriately, some common misconceptions about prescription drugs and ways they can say “no” to people selling drugs. We put this program in place at TCOP because prescription drug abuse has become both an epidemic and a rising public health issue in the past decade. This was an opportunity for us to raise awareness to a population that may be affected in the future.
What are the main things middle schoolers need to understand?
The biggest thing they needed to understand was that although prescription drugs are safe for millions, they are only safe for the people they are prescribed for and not for anyone else. It is a common mistake to think that since prescription drugs come from a doctor, then they must be safe for anyone to use.
In middle school, kids are prone to experiment and think about drugs – both prescription and illegal drugs – but it’s not a huge issue for them yet – or is it?
Middle school is definitely a time when kids begin to think about both prescription and illegal drugs, especially nowadays with prescription drugs mentioned in the news all the time. High school is when kids really begin their experimentation, which is why we wanted to educate them BEFORE they reached that stage.
What did you feel you were able to accomplish when you were with the middle schoolers?
We reinforced the idea that prescription drugs are safe only for the people they are prescribed for and when used improperly, they can be just as dangerous as illegal substances. The students were very involved in the discussion and excited to tell us why a prescription is needed. I also felt we taught them multiple ways to say “no” to drug dealers.
As a pharmacy student and soon-to-be pharmacist, what did you take away from the experience?
The biggest takeaway was applying the knowledge we learned at school and seeing how much of an impact we can make when it comes to drug education. Going forward, this experience will shape the kind of pharmacist I want to be after graduating.