NOPE - Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, a new drug-prevention program in middle schools
TAMPA BAY - It was the summer of 2006.
Spencer Foster just finished middle school and was excited for his freshman year at Sickles High School to begin. Spencer never set foot on a high school campus though. Dead at just 14.
"It was a combination of oxycodone and alcohol in his system," says his mother, Michele Phillips.
She says being an avid supporter of N.O.P.E., Narcotics Overdose and Prevention Education, is somewhat therapy for her family. Hoping that their tragedy saves a life. Tuesday was the first N.O.P.E. presentation in a Hillsborough County Middle School. The program usually reserved for just high schoolers, but many say that's way too late.
"We need to start in the middle school ages," says Cindy Grant with N.O.P.E. "We need to reach them then so that they don't make those bad choices."
Grant says parents need to understand kids aren't getting drugs from some strange person in an alley anymore. The way a drug dealer looks has completely changed through the years.
"It's your mom's medicine cabinet, your grandmother's medicine cabinet, an ill family member," says Grant. "These kids are getting the prescription drugs from their own houses and having what they call 'skittle parties' in some instances. That's when kids bring different prescription pills and then they put everything in a bowl and just take pills from it."
Phillips and Grant say they just hope the N.O.P.E. program will show kids and their parents that education is key, before one mistake changes their lives forever.
HELP PREVENT PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE. TAKE BACK BOX LOCATIONS OPEN 24/7:
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office locations
District I 14102 N. 20th Street, Tampa ; 813-247-0600
District II 2310 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa; 813-247-8555
District III 7202 Gunn Highway, Tampa; 813-247-0330
District IV 508 33rd Street, SE, Ruskin; 813-247-0455
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON N.O.P.E. TASK FORCE