LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Prescription drugs are being found in classrooms at an alarming rate in Lancaster County. So far this school year, there have been 27 random security searches at various high schools in Lancaster County.

Out of those searches, there have been 10 cases where prescription drugs were found in a student’s possession.

The district initiated random searches 25 years ago, but as of 2017, the district has begun using K9 dogs more.

“He can pick up on marijuana and hash, crack, crack cocaine, heroin, meth and gun powder,” said Jim Beernink, handler of the K9.

Lately it’s not street drugs the dog’s been finding, but rather the legal drugs.

“Weekly we’re finding one to two cases of that,” Beernink said.

Just last week, prescribed pills for ADHD were confiscated from a student. 

According to Bryan Vaughn, director of safety for the schools, hydrocodone and "things in the oxycodone family" have also been recovered from students.

While some of the medicines have been legally prescribed, the district says the issue is parents aren’t notifying them when students are bringing medicine to schools.

This is a concern to parents as unmonitored medicines -- even the legal ones -- can have the same effect as illegal drugs.

“Hydrocodone, Ritalin, Adderall all of those have the same basis as heroin or meth,” said Julie Emery, a nurse practitioner with Piedmont’s Fort Mill Family Practice. “Prescribed medicines have become an epidemic especially with teenagers."

Nurse Emery says the best thing for parents to remember is:

  • Always notify school officials when your child is bringing medicine to school
  • Keep medicines in a locked space, even if it's prescribed to your child
  • Never take prescribed medicine from anyone else -- it needs to come from your doctor