What can be done for depressed teens in my largely Hispanic town who may have a medication addiction? It's a question recently thrown at Dr. Mehmet Oz that he tells nj.com "changed his life." A mother known simply as Estella stood up at Memorial High School in New Jersey and posed the question to the doctor. It's a basic question of any mother today, wondering what she can do to prevent her child from drug addiction or help her child. And with the use of prescription drugs on the rise, a valid one at that. "I'm concerned for a lot of the kids in the neighborhood," the paper reports her saying. "The kids, they have to deal with having their parents deported. It just breaks my heart that these kids, sometimes they don't have anyone...They are afraid to talk to the teachers." While we've heard how the prescription drug and heroin epidemics are affecting the white community, we must also take into effect that it is also terrorizing other communities as well. And not everyone feels safe talking about it. That's the part that stopped Oz in his tracks. He tells nj.com "The people who are there to help stop (addiction issues) aren't trusted to stop it (in some communities)...She's speaking not just for illegal immigrants. She may be speaking for members of the African-American community, (and) people who have had problems with the law in the past." Again, in an ongoing and sad theme, all of this refers to the stigma that is attached to addiction. Oz attended the school where he was asked the profound question while hosting National Night of Conversation," a discussion touching on general addiction issues facing all U.S. communities. Memorial High was chosen because, as NJ.com points out, "It is one of 44 U.S. high schools partnered with HealthCorps, a, health advocacy organization" Oz started and likened to the Peace Corps, but for health. Also, the town's mayor, Felix Roque, is a 'pain relief doctor' who understands prescription drug abuse, Oz said. Memorial High School Principal Scott Wohlrab explained the high school has two substance abuse counselors, and every student and parent is given complete confidentiality. Students also learn about drugs in health class and assemblies, explaining that earlier in the day a former athlete told children how a DWI changed his life. And with the addition of Oz's HealthCorps, a full-time coordinator has been stationed in the school, giving eight to 10 weekly lessons and offering advice and lunches. This year, HealthCorps paid for and stationed in Memorial High a full-time coordinator, a graduate of a HealthCorps summer academy. He gives eight to 10 weekly guest lessons (usually during health or gym) in the HealthCorps curriculum, on subjects like healthy stress-management, and also gives lunch wellness workshops. All of this in the name of keeping kids "of all communities" off drugs, proving education is key in this war on drugs.
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