Xanax-abuse cases stop at Hilton Head High, principal says

rlurye@islandpacket.comMarch 6, 2014 

While an investigation to determine how students got their hands on prescription medicine last month continues, incidents of drug abuse at Hilton Head Island High School have subsided, principal Amanda O'Nan said Thursday.

The school has not requested EMS for drug-related problems since the first week of February, when officials made two 911 calls after students mixed Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety drug, and Coricidin, an over-the-counter cold-and-cough medicine, O'Nan said.

Administrators and teachers found students were mixing the drugs in water bottles and drinking three or more times the recommended dosage, which can cause lethargy, restlessness and loss of motor skills.

O'Nan said she took disciplinary action in eight drug-related incidents between late January and early February, but school resource officers have not noticed similar incidents since then.

"Overall, it's been relatively quiet, as far as school issues or school discipline," O'Nan said. "We're just trying to stay focused and make sure we're on top of any other issues that come up."

She added that it is still unclear how students were obtaining Xanax.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner declined to say how many students have been interviewed or whether any suspects have been identified. A 23-year-old Hilton Head Island man was charged with Xanax trafficking Feb. 8 in an off-campus incident, but Tanner would not give further details on that case or say if it is connected to the high school incidents.

Kenneth Edwards was a passenger in a Ford Expedition stopped on William Hilton Parkway, according to a Sheriff's Office report. Deputies seized more than 100 Xanax pills, along with a loaded Taurus .38-caliber revolver, the report said. Edwards was charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a serial number.

A juvenile was driving the vehicle, according to the report.

Edwards remained at the Beaufort County Detention Center on Thursday, with bail set at $70,000.

"Because of the integrity of the case, we're not going to prematurely release information that could harm the investigation," Tanner said.

He said he didn't know how long the inquiry at the high school would last.

Staff writer Sarah Bowman contributed to this report. Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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