Jacob Warrin, local artist and Amarillo Independent School District employee, was a guest speaker at the Impact Futures town hall meeting on prescription drug abuse.
The meeting started at 7 p.m. on Oct. 25 and opened with Warrin’s speech. He spoke on how he was shot in the neck because of drugs and how this made him turn to sobriety.
He also shared his plans to raise awareness about drug abuse through his artwork.
Warrin was addicted to alcohol and drugs and shows this through his paintings of angels holding bottles. He aims to share his story with the school districts to make kids aware of what addiction to prescription drugs can lead to.
“The bottle that the angel is holding is a bottle of hope to every person that needs a symbol,” Warrin said. “I want to donate a painting to every school I went to. I want more than that. I want it to be in every school in the nation so everyone can see the bottle of hope.”
After Warrin spoke, the meeting transitioned into an open discussion between an expert panel and the attendees. The panel consisted of law enforcement, Panhandle Poison Center, Pavilion representatives, a chemical dependency counselor, and high school students.
“A lot of times prescription drug abuse is not reported,” Jeanie Jaramillo, managing director of the Panhandle Poison Center, said. “We hear more about synthetic drugs. Teens think prescription drugs are safe. If mom and dad keep them in the house, then they don’t think it’s bad.”
The Panhandle Poison Center sponsors a medication clean out where residences can turn in their old prescriptions and the Amarillo Police Department disposes of them by incineration.
“29 percent of kids [who use] start with prescription drugs because they are safe,” Laviza Matthews, program director of Impact Futures, said.
The Pavilion is also involved in making patients aware of how to take care of their medication when they are released. They have a counselor meet with the kids before they are discharged and go over proper doses. They started an adolescence program in early October, which educates kids on how to handle their prescriptions so they will be more educated when they return to school.
“In our school, the only awareness we have is from Red Ribbon Week. We mostly are learning about them [prescription drugs] from our peers and the people that are selling them,” Hannah Johnson, Tascosa High School senior, said. “They are super open about it. You know where to get it and how much it costs.”
The panel discussed options on making drug abuse and availability more recognizable in the Amarillo school district. They also talked about educating parents and raising awareness in all schools, not just high schools. Vern Wilson, corporal from the Amarillo Police Department, said that kids begin selling in middle school and will sell cigarettes for a dollar and a pinch of snuff for fifty cents.
Impact Futures’ next event will be on Feb 2. They will place large canvases in the schools so that the kids can write what keeps them above the influence on it.
“It will be very colorful so the students will engage their gray matter and remember their goals. It’s been proven to be really effective,” Matthews said.
There will also be an assembly where Warrin and a victim of a drunk driving accident will speak.