By Mark Powell
Think Big, Act Local
Something happened to the Class of 2007 at two small Jackson County high schools.
Between 2006-2009, 16 young people age 15 to 21 overdosed on prescription drugs. Many of the overdoses were fentanyl-related. The majority of them were members of the Ripley and Ravenswood High School Class of 2007.
An earlier overdose in 2005 prompted community leaders to create an informal coalition to combat drug use. By 2009, 16 overdoses in a small community of 29,000 people were too many to ignore.
“The response started with a Drug-Free community grant that year,” says Director Amy Haskins. “We spent a lot of time raising awareness about the issue, talking to parents and grandparents and anybody who would listen about how the kids were accessing prescription drugs. We had stories that they were crushing and snorting pills inside books in classrooms, and teachers had no idea it was happening.” From there, the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition was created. It led to a community-wide discussion. But education alone wasn’t enough.