Peer Helpers answer ‘Dose of Prevention’ challenge

Published 3:10 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Andalusia High School Peer Helpers have teamed up with the Covington County Children’s Policy Council Coalition for the month of October to participate in the Dose of Prevention Challenge.

Yesterday, the Peer Helpers completed their final requirement of the challenge by hosting a student-led town hall meeting to help raise awareness about the dangers of prescription and over the counter medicine abuse.

Circuit Judge Lex Short was also among the speakers at the meeting. He spoke about the ins and outs of drug court.

“If you get charged with a drug offense in Covington County, you can plea to go to drug court,” He said. “What we saw a lot of is that there would be this circle of people getting arrested and then getting out of jail and using drugs again and getting sent back to prison again. We realized that we needed to fix the problem of addiction instead of just punishing the criminal. So with drug court, if you are a first time offender, you can ask to go to drug court.”

Judge Short said that there currently are 150 people in the drug court.

“It starts off with cigarettes, and now students have the ability to smoke odorless cigarettes,” he said. “But Juuling, smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana leads to other problems. You may start using cocaine and that will turn into a methamphetamine problem. If you don’t start with anything then it won’t be a problem.”

AHS seniors Colin Marcum and Ibeth Martinez gave a presentation about the opioid epidemic in the nation.

“Just to show how serious this is, the U.S. consumes 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone,” Marcum said. “Prescription pills are not a safer alternative to street drugs.”

Marcum and Martinez both have been working with the CCCPCC to gather data about the opioid crisis in the nation.

“We plan a lot of events and gather materials for presentations,” Martinez said.

Sarah Piggott and Aniya Florence gave a presentation on over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan.

DTF Commander Mark Odom and Agent Josh Hudson receive the Dose of Prevention Award from CCCPCC Executive Director Susan Short.

“It was honestly amazing to learn about what people will do to chase that high,” Piggott said. “There are so many things that we don’t realize, but we need to educate each other.”

The AHS Peer Helpers have been working with CCCPCC Executive Director Susan Short since 2009 and traveled to Washington, D.C., when the CCCPCC won Coalition of the Year.

“Having her on our team is amazing,” Peer Helper sponsor Charlotte Spurlin said. “I can call and say that I need a speaker for an event and she will get right on it. We have a really great partnership with the CCCPCC.”

Short said that she noticed that if students lead other students, then they retain more information.

“I let them take control of the whole project,” Short said. “I find that if we have our youth lead each other, they will be more likely to listen then if an adult talks, it will probably go in one ear and out the other.”

Along with holding a town meeting, the Peer Helpers also completed every other requirement for the challenge including, implementing an integrated marketing and communications campaign, holding an innovative contest, holding all events in October during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, covering both of the topics of prescription drug abuse and over the counter abuse and distributing Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse brochures.

If AHS wins the challenge they will be awarded $1,500 cash, a full scholarship to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., and recognition in CADCA’s publications.


During the meeting the CCCPCC awarded the Dose of Prevention award to the Covington County 22nd Judicial Task Force for their work.

“We are very fortunate in our county to have a superb drug task force,” Susan Short said. “We have always had involvement from them to help with our prescription take back programs. One time during a drug take back event, they weighed 105 pounds of medicine. The drug task force actually has to return and collect these medications on a weekly basis. That is why we would like to give them this award.”