Granger woman to speak to youth about prescription drug misuse

NILES TOWNSHIP — With the aim to educate students and parents alike about prescription drug misuse, Brandywine High School will host speaker Rebecca Savage, of Granger, to put a face to the epidemic which claimed the lives of two of her sons.

The speech is titled, “Prevention Loss Through Education and Awareness” and will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the Brandywine Middle/High School, 1700 Bell Road. A Michigan State Police trooper and school counselors will attend and be available to answer audience questions.

Brandywine Middle/High School health teacher Loraine Duffield, who contacted Savage to deliver the hour-long presentation, is inviting parents to be part of the presentation, too.

“I want parents to get as much out of this as the kids,” Duffield said. “Savage talks about how parents need to be more proactive in realizing these kids aren’t getting [prescription drugs] from each other — they are getting them from parents.”

Savage is the founder of the 525 Foundation with the goal to help prevent the tragedy that her family experienced by spreading awareness about prescription drug abuse.

Before their deaths, Savage’s sons, Nick, 19, and Jack 18, were honors students. Both led their high school hockey teams as captains and both made a fatal mistake the night of Jack’s graduation.

As Savage details on her foundation’s website, Nick and Jack went to celebrate the graduation with friends and classmates and decided to mix oxycodone and alcohol.

“They chose to drink, and they chose to take a pill when it was offered to them. These choices were mistakes, and my boys paid the ultimate price for them,” Savage said.

Both Nick and Jack died of acute alcohol and oxycodone overdose after the party. To honor her sons and spread awareness about the issue, Savage started the 525 Foundation — named after the combination of her sons’ hockey team jersey numbers. Savage took her mission further and has shared her story on national TV. She also testified before Congress to advocate for the need for more youth education about the misuse of prescription drugs.   

“They were good kids and a good family who made a horrible choice,” Duffield said. “Kids are not safe in their own home, because of what they can get their hands on.”

With the opioid epidemic declared a national emergency by President Donald Trump late last year, Duffield said she felt that the timing is important in spreading awareness to today’s youth. Each year, Duffield’s health students learn from a unit on drugs, so she felt Savage’s speech would also emphasize what students are learning in class.

“I don’t care what background you come from. This kind of stuff does not discriminate,” Duffield said. “I just feel fortunate that we can open this up to students at Brandywine.”

Savage’s story serves as a reminder about taking the proper precautions to store and track prescription medication, Duffield said. She encouraged all parents to step up and be part of this event.

Students will be raising donations for the 525 Foundation the day before Savage speaks. To raise money, they will be paying $1 to wear hats inside the building, which is normally not permitted. Duffield said Savage agreed to do the performance for whatever amount the students can raise to give back to the foundation.

“I just wanted to make this a huge opportunity for students, so we can touch everybody,” Duffield said. “This is going to resonate because it is coming from a human being and these are  lives that were lost.”

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