Police, educators worry about abuse of synthetic painkillers - WSMV Channel 4

Police, educators worry about abuse of synthetic painkillers

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SPRINGFIELD, TN (WSMV) -

Law enforcement say teens have a new way to get high by using synthetic painkillers.

In Robertson County, some teachers are now getting involved to help combat the problems they see.

Jo Byrns High School English teacher Emily Sutherland used some downtime Friday to grade students' poems, but teaching grammar is not all Sutherland focuses on with her students.

"One of the biggest parts of teaching is forming relationships and knowing your students, and that involves what they're involved in outside of school. Many of them are participating in these activities, and it's scary," she said.

Sutherland is referring to students using synthetic painkillers. Recently, she and other teachers at Jo Byrns leaned about the new drug fad in a class taught by Robertson County Sheriff's Sgt. Charles Clark.

"Don't know where they're made. The chemicals in them are not FDA approved. There's so much in them that's just a lose-lose situation," Clark said.

Clark said the drugs typically look like energy drinks and are typically sold over the counter at mom-and-pop stores.

Recently, Clark said, they discovered evidence Robertson County students were using them to get high.

"It was laying in a parking lot, of one of the places we had searched - a school," Clark said. Unlike bath salts and synthetic marijuana, police can't arrest you for using this type of synthetic pain killer, but that may soon change.

"When something new comes out, unfortunately, the speed at which something new is created does not match the speed at which laws come out to stop it," Clark said.

In Sutherland's classroom, she said after learning about students' use of these drugs, she plans to speak to her classes about more than just poetry.

"It's a problem. Pretending a problem doesn't exist is not going to make it go away," she said.

Clark said since the synthetic painkillers haven't been around too long, all of the side-effects are not yet known.

He added the best way for parents to know if their child is using such a drug is to be involved in their life and ask questions.

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