Oak Mountain Middle School students hear about dangers of drug use

NORTH SHELBY – Oak Mountain Middle School students had the opportunity to hear from law enforcement officers about the dangers of drug abuse—and see a canine officer at work.

Detective Eric Myers with the Hoover Police Department made presentations to hundreds of students on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Investigator Christine Swann with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, brought drug dog Kelly for the students to see.

The visit was an effort of Compact 2020, which is a collaborative community drug intervention and education program led by the DA’s Office with partners including Shelby County Commission and county manager, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Alabaster, Pelham, Hoover and Chelsea.

Myers told students that his responsibilities included enforcing laws related to drugs, preventing drug abuse and increasing awareness on the subject.

According to a video shown by Myers, there are 129 deaths per day from drug overdoses.

Myers also talked about how drugs affect people’s brains and alters their decision-making ability.

“No matter what the drug is, it affects your brain in one way or another,” Myers said.

Because of the expense of drugs, users often resort to crime to pay for them and then end up in jail, where drugs are even harder to come by, leaving addicted users going through withdrawal.

“How many of you have ever had the flu?” Myers asked, and most of those in attendance raised their hands. “Think about that 10 times worse when you’re coming off heroin. It’s not a good feeling.”

Myers said drug abuse occurs in affluent communities as well as poorer ones.

“Drugs do not have a zip code,” he said.

Myers also touched on gateway drugs and peer pressure before showing another video, which included the tragic story of a boy from Vestavia Hills who became addicted to drugs and suffered a fatal overdose.

“That young man lived a life so many of you would love to live,” Myers said about the boy, who had much going for him, according to the stories told by loved ones in the video. “His best friend and parents saw him at his worst (after he overdosed). No one wants that to be their last image of someone they love.

“Using drugs will stop your future from happening.”

After Myers’ presentation, Swann told students about Kelly, a Belgian malinois who has undergone about 11 weeks of training to be able to alert officers to the presence of drugs.

A synthetic cocaine substance was hidden in a bag in the school’s gymnasium, while other bags and jackets were placed nearby.

Kelly was rewarded when she discovers the smell, Swann said.

“This is like recess for her,” she said.