BETHEL, PITT COUNTY - State Attorney General Roy Cooper visited a Pitt County school Wednesday to help launch a contest aimed at warning people about prescription drug abuse.
Cooper visited North Pitt High School in Bethel to help kick off the annual "Stop Rx Abuse" competition. Any high school student can participate in the contest by creating a public service announcement for teen prescription drug abuse and submitting it by April 15.
This is the third year the Attorney General's Office is partnering with different groups to sponsor the competition. There will be three winners selected, all of which will receive either an iPad, iPhone or iTunes gift card.
Cooper, along with a State Bureau Investigation's agent and parent of an addict who died, had the opportunity to share with kids the potential dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Officials say illegal prescription consumption is a growing epidemic. Authorities say statistics show one in four high school students will illegally use prescription drugs, and that 70 percent of them get the drugs from inside people's home.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. They also say that most people age 12 or older who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member for free.
Law officials say selling or passing along prescription drugs is illegal and considered a felony.
"Kids will take them, and not only will they take them themselves, they will give them to other friends, and they will even sell them sometimes," Cooper said. "We just gotta get this message out that this is a problem and we've gotta stop it. So we are trying to bring this [the contest] to the high schools directly to increase the awareness, and who better to talk to other high school students than high school students."
In late February, school officials said two teens overdosed on prescription drugs and were rushed to the hospital. One of those two students was in attendance at the presentation.