Nine middle school students were transported to a local hospital Friday after they took a prescription painkiller while at school.
Just after 7a.m. Vanderbilt media relations told Nashville's News 2 three of those students are still in the hospital in stable condition. Six have been released.
The students are eighth graders at Madison Middle School on Old Hickory Boulevard in Madison.
Olivia Brown, spokesperson for Metro Schools, said five girls and four boys were transported to Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt around 2:30 p.m.
The names of the students were not released.
Vanderbilt physicians said the students took Dilaudid, a morphine based painkiller used to the relieve moderate to severe pain and can be prescribed to cancer patients.
Available in liquid and tablet form, Dilaudid may also used to decrease coughing.
Drug use on school property is a zero tolerance offense and Brown said the students will be disciplined.
According to Metro Schools' policy, zero tolerance offenses carry an expulsion for a period of not less than one year.
Unlawful use, possession or distribution of any drug including any controlled substance, legend or prescription drug or synthetic drug are always zero tolerance offenses.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told Nashville's News 2 that they are treating more children and teens for using prescription drugs without a prescription.
"An adult dose of a prescription pain medicine can make a child stop breathing and can ultimately lead to their death," Dr. Abby Williams said.
Dr. Williams is a pediatric emergency physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
"This is a trend we are seeing among young people and here in Tennessee we see more abuse of pain medicine than we do in other states," Dr. Williams said.
In 2011, the CDC conducted a study of Tennessee high school students that showed that 19.2 percent of girls and 20.4 percent of boys admitted to taking a prescription drug like Vicodin or Percocet without a prescription.
"Parents need to know to lock up their medication," Dr. Williams said. "When their kids are going to friends houses they could be getting into their friends' parents' medications.
The long term effects of teenage prescription drug abuse vary from neurological damage to leading teens taking more serious drugs.
Dr. Williams said the Dilaudid the students took on Friday should not cause them long term damage.
Parents can get more information about prescription drug use by going to the CDC's Web site or by calling the poison at 1-800-222-1222.