Students raise awareness on substance abuse

Students in Isla Vista march to honor the lives of UCSB students lost to substance abuse.

Shirin Rajaee, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, shirin.rajaee@keyt.com
POSTED: 12:19 AM PST Feb 02, 2013    UPDATED: 05:00 PM PST Feb 02, 2013 

Students in Isla Vista are hoping to raise awareness on an important issue. Dozens gathered as part of a memorial walk Friday night honoring the lives of their fellow classmates they lost to substance abuse. Their message was focused on the dangers of mixing prescriptions drugs and alcohol.

Just last fall quarter, four UCSB students died, all alcohol related. Prescription drugs like Xanax, Vicodin, Oxycotin, and Opana, a very potent pain killer, are drugs commonly being abused on campus.  The director of UCSB's alcohol and drug program Jackie Kurta says: "alcohol acts as a depressant in the central nervous system and many of the prescription drugs also act as depressants, and so the combination can be tragic." Kurta adds that even low levels of alcohol, like in the case of 19-year old Alec (AJ) Torchan, can cause someone to stop breathing

Earlier Friday there was a similar push for change. This time it was surrounding the unsafe conditions around the Isla Vista bluffs. The has been too many accidents where residents have fallen off the coastal cliffs, so students are fighting for a fence off Del Playa Drive -- where they recently lost fellow classmate David Propp last November.

Students are working to raise money for a fence, which is estimated to cost $6,500. Health educators at UCSB want students and the public to know that if you know of friends that may be using drugs in unsafe ways, do not wait to call for help.

NewsChannel 3 Reporter Shirin Rajaee reports.