To continue addressing the growing concern regarding adolescent drug abuse and misuse across the country, The Rite Aid Foundation is bringing the Prescription Drug Safety Program to Scranton-area high schools.
At an event at Carbondale Area High School on Friday, December 7, The Rite Aid Foundation formally launched the program for local schools, with speakers including members of the Carbondale Area School District’s leadership team, Carbondale Police Chief Brian Bognatz, as well as a representative of Senator Bob Casey’s office.
“Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing problem across the United States. Every day 116 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation. “Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic that threatens the health, safety and wellbeing of our young people. The Rite Aid Foundation is proud to introduce this important prevention education to Scranton-area students. We hope it arms them with the skills and knowledge to make smart decisions and prevent abuse before it occurs.”
Pennsylvania is one of the states hardest hit by prescription drug abuse and the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania is among the top five states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths. In addition, the number of drug overdose deaths is increasing more rapidly in Pennsylvania than any other state in the nation.
“The mission of the Carbondale Area school district is to prepare all students to be active and productive citizens of a changing global community by fostering lifelong self-directed learning,” said Superintendent Robert Mehalick. “The Prescription Drug Safety course supports our district’s mission by empowering students with the tools and skills they need to make their own informed and healthy choices when it comes to using medications.”
After the prepared remarks, students led discussion groups with invited guests to reflect on their own key takeaways from the course. “There’s just a lot of staggering information about the opioid epidemic,” said a Carbondale student. “To learn this information at a younger age is key, because then you go into the real world knowing all of this and then when you’re faced with a tricky situation, it’s a lot easier to respond when you’re educated. I’m just thankful I had the opportunity to take this course.”
The Rite Aid Foundation has made a three-year, $1.7 million commitment to the Prescription Drug Safety program. This donation also funds the introduction of the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in Ohio, California, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania. The program is expected to reach more than 400 high schools.