The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Parents advocate for drug abuse prevention

Devin ​Harper a Mississippi State University student from 2014-2015, was 23 years old when he committed suicide on Jan. 16, 2017.
Beginning at the young age of 16, Harper struggled with an Adderall addiction. 
Since his death, Harper’s parents made it their personal mission to spread awareness about drug abuse and addiction.
They took to Facebook and speaking to college campuses to let students know the struggles of addiction, and the obstacles Harper faced while in school. 
In the first Facebook post, Harper’s mother noted how the Adderall is very accessible on college campuses. Harper’s father, Dennis Harper, said his son is still the leader among many. 
“Devin was truly a selfless sole,” Dennis Harper said. “He is continuing that by getting his story to other parents and kids.” 
When Harper’s parents took to Facebook to spread awareness, they wrote a letter to everyone explaining the effects of the drug. 
According to the Facebook post, college students are two times more likely to abuse Adderall than peers who do not attend college.  
“Adderall works by mimicking high dopamine levels in the brain,” Harper’s parents said on Facebook. “Dopamine, the body’s ‘feel good’ chemical creates a rewarding effect. Although naturally occurring in the brain, drugs like Adderall mimics unnaturally high levels of it.”
The letter also shared Harper’s personal experiences; when he was alone, he could no longer feel happy or joyful. The Mississippi State Department of Health reports men ages 25-30  are more likely to abuse drugs and are about twice as likely to die from overdose than woman. However, 18 women die each day from prescription drug abuse. This age reflects the age of many students in college. 
Sam Watts, a MSU health and promotion wellness graduate student, is experienced in Adderall abuse cases specifically.
 
“Adderall abuse can be defined in multiple ways including taking a higher dose or more often than prescribed, taking it in a non-approved method like snorting, taking it for non-medical reasons, or simply taking someone else’s prescribed medicine,” Watts said. “It may seem harmless, but Adderall abuse can lead to paranoia, seizures, heart problems, panic attacks, aggressive behavior, tremors, skin irritations and much more.” 
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Adderall is a drug considered at a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. 
Also, the rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remain unacceptably high, according to the Partnership for a drug-free America. The new data makes it very clear, that abuse of all prescription medicine is an immediate threat to the health of American teens.
While Adderall has many health setbacks, legal consequences are also involved in the state of Mississippi for sharing, or taking Adderall, and other prescribed stimulants. Watts said these include fines up to $1,000 or $10,000 and up to one year in jail for illegally possessing less than one-tenth of a gram, or one dosage unit.
Dennis, an advocate for awareness wants students to know the reality of situations like this.
“Please know that you are not in control of yourself when addicted to this drug,” Dennis said. “If you feel your true friends and family are bothering you with something that you think is under control, then you are not under control. Please don’t let your friends do this. It’s deadly.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Parents advocate for drug abuse prevention