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How to just say ‘NO’

IRONTON — Twenty-five years ago, then First Lady Nancy Reagan championed a popular slogan that resonates as much today as it did in 1984.

“Just say no!”

Even today, both children and adults know what those three words mean. But lost through the years is the premise as to why students should “say no.”

Friday morning, Ironton Middle School sixth graders got to see up close what alcohol, cocaine, steroids, crack, marijuana and addictive prescription drugs can literally do to their bodies, their families and their future as part of a new drug education program sponsored by Kings Daughters Medical Center.

It was a powerful hour where students not only were informed why they should “say no,” but how to “say no.”

Moderated by Rachel Cooper, a nurse and community health specialist with the KDMC Health Connections Department, the program is titled “The Truth About Drugs: Get the Real Facts.” Friday’s program was the first time it was presented in the Tri-State area.

“For more than 10 years we have presented a tobacco education program in the schools that has been very well received,” Cooper said. “We recognize there also is a great need to educate young people on the real facts about alcohol, prescription medications, street drugs and inhalants, so we developed this new program.”

The interactive seminar allowed questions by students to be woven around video testimonials of former addicts and the destruction it did to their lives.

A main theme of Cooper’s presentation was reminding each student that they are in control of their own lives and that they have the courage it takes to stand up under mountains of peer pressure to say no to drugs.

“Drugs are not the solution you are looking for when you have a problem,” Cooper said. “If you think drugs are a solution to your problems, they are not.”

In localizing her presentation, Cooper showed student a photomontage of different newspaper articles she had collected during the past two weeks detailing drug crimes and convictions within the Tri-State area.

“Drugs are the number one cause of crime in Lawrence County,” Cooper said.

“Drugs are essentially poisons. And although nearly half of teens believe taking prescription drugs is safer than street drugs, the fact is prescriptions drugs are just as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs,” Cooper said in explaining that more people are addicted to prescription drugs than ever before.

The program was developed using materials from a Drug-Free Foundation and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Schools interested in scheduling the program can call KDMC at (606) 408-4151.