SOUTH SALT LAKE — A Granite High School student was taken to the hospital Thursday after apparently becoming intoxicated on cough syrup.

The incident marks the second day in a row an ambulance was called to a Salt Lake County school to transport a student for substance abuse problems.

Wednesday, four teenage girls from Matheson Junior High School were taken to the hospital — mainly for precautionary reasons — after swallowing several pills.

Now, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office is considering seeking charges against the girls.

The pills the girls took were a prescription, non-scheduled muscle relaxant, said sheriff's deputy Levi Hughes. The pills are stronger than an Advil but not as powerful as a Lortab, he said. One of the girls took the pills from her home, possibly from a parent's medicine cabinet. The pills were not prescribed to any of the girls.

The girl who took the pills passed them out among her friends, believing they were Oxycontin, Hughes said. Because of that, two girls face potential charges in juvenile court of possession with intent to distribute, and two girls face potential charges of distribution of an imitation substance.

Because the events happened on school property, the charges could be enhanced to felonies.

Hughes said the sheriff's office was not making an example of the girls by pushing for criminal charges. But deputies did hope that any possible charges would result in the girls getting help.

"Our best judgment tells us something needs to be done. Knowingly taking drugs believing it will get them high ... this is a terrible decision that needs to be dealt with appropriately," Hughes said.

In Thursday's incident, a Granite High School student was at a nearby fast-food restaurant for lunch when a worker noticed the girl was in "serious trouble," said school district spokesman Randy Ripplinger who did not have further details Thursday about her condition.

A nearby school resource officer was called and took the girl back to school, where an ambulance was called that took her to the hospital. Police later learned the girl "consumed a great deal of cough syrup," he said.

Regarding two incidents of substance abuse at Granite District schools in two days, Ripplinger said the unfortunate reality is drugs are a problem in the Granite District as well as many others in the state.

"Every day there are drugs in our schools, unfortunately. We constantly plead for the community and home support on this issue," he said. "We know the drugs don't originate in the schools, they originate outside the schools, unfortunately sometimes in homes. We plead for community support. Parents are our first line of defense."

Children today can find drugs more easily in their parents' medicine cabinets than they could looking for a drug dealer on the street, Hughes said.

"We're seeing an increase in fatalities and serious injury of people of all ages. We need to take a stance with kids and adults that if you're going to abuse these medications, we are going to screen charges on you," he said. "Not that we want to see people caught up in the court system, but we want to see them reforming so they don't end up dead."


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