Millions of Americans struggle with opioid dependency. It kills thousands every year. Few families remain unaffected by this deadly epidemic.
Courtney Lenard of the Centers for Disease Control states, “It’s important to note that no demographic group has gone untouched with the opioid crisis.”
The people of Maryland are experiencing these hard-hitting facts in their home state. In 2016 alone, more than 2,000 people of its’ residents died from drug and alcohol overdoses. This is a grim new record for The Old Line State.
New Law Shapes Future Lesson Plans
In response, Maryland legislators are now beefing up their teaching efforts. Under a new law, students will receive education on the dangers of opioids four times (at least) by the time they finish college.
The first two training segments will take place in elementary school. During high school, students will receive additional classes regarding the dangers of opioids. Then, in college, incoming full-time students will be educated once again on this subject.
If a school accepts state money, they’re required to include this drug education as part of their curriculum. This encompasses both public and private institutions.
The new legislation also requires colleges to stock naloxone on campus, which can be used by campus police and public safety officers. (Naloxone is used as an antidote to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.)
Will This Educational Initiative Work?
CDC data reveals heroin and opioid overdose deaths aren’t concentrated among your typical college student population. However, opioid abuse definitely occurs on campuses nationwide. Additionally, many schools have high numbers of non-traditional students enrolled, who may be at a higher statistical risk.
“This is going to require a variety of different responses and a variety of different channels to solve,” admits Tammy Wincup, chief operating officer of EverFi. Her company is responsible for offering addiction-prevention and prescription-drug safety programming at some Maryland colleges. EverFi also offers AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol education program many colleges use for incoming students.
Are these programs enough to turn the tide? Wincup notes that, on their own, prevention education efforts at the college level won’t dispel the addiction and overdose numbers. But it’s a move in the right direction. Drug use and related issues remain top concerns on campus, but “EverFi, along with support for its programs from the state and federal governments, has helped make a positive impact at colleges,” says Wincup.
Her comments aren’t off the mark. Existing research shows opioid education programs at the college level can be effective. Additionally, this latest initiative could provide more data to use in further study of opioid abuse at the college level. As these results guide future efforts, the hope is to increase awareness and decrease drug-related death tolls currently devastating the state.
Additional Reading: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Teen Opioid Abuse
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