CAMP HILL, Pa.— In an effort to help address adolescent drug abuse and misuse in Pennsylvania, The Rite Aid Foundation is bringing the Prescription Drug Safety program, an innovative digital course about prescription drug abuse prevention, to Harrisburg-area high schools.
The program, developed by EVERFI, the nation’s leading education technology innovator used in one in seven schools nationwide, will be made available to high schools in Cumberland, Dauphin, and York counties at no cost. Representatives of The Rite Aid Foundation, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Public Engagement Rob Reed and Harrisburg School District officials announced the launch of the new program during a press conference and demonstration at Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus.
“This vicious cycle of opioid abuse is one that young people are falling victim to far too often,” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. “Our country is faced with an unparalleled crisis that is critically impacting the lives of our children. One of Rite Aid’s core values is being a caring neighbor, involved in meaningful ways in the communities we serve, especially if it involves improving the health and wellbeing of children. We are pleased to introduce this incredibly important prevention education program to students in the Harrisburg area, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to prevent abuse before it starts.”
The Prescription Drug Safety program uses an evidence-based, public health approach to empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. Through interactive scenarios and self-guided activities, students learn the facts about drugs, how to properly use and dispose of them, and how to step in when faced with a situation involving misuse. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Education Standards and state academic standards.
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, with 5,456 deaths being attributed to opioid drug overdose in 2017, per the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The heroin and opioid epidemic is the number one public health and public safety crisis affecting Pennsylvania and it is my top priority,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “For far too many Pennsylvanians, addiction starts with prescription drugs obtained at their doctor’s office. I’m grateful to partner with organizations like The Rite Aid Foundation to bring this critically important education program to our students to increase their awareness of dangers associated with prescription drug abuse.”
Harrisburg School District is implementing the six-lesson online Prescription Drug Safety program as part of the health education program. Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus is one of the first Harrisburg-area schools to integrate the program into its curriculum. Over the next year, many other area high schools will be launching the program.
“It is incredibly important to educate children in our community about the real-world crises of prescription drug abuse and the dangers they could face,” said Harrisburg School District superintendent, Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney. “It is imperative that we uplift and educate our students to be able to change the world and become active and informed members of the community. We are extremely grateful to The Rite Aid Foundation for helping educate our students to make smart, healthy and responsible choices regarding prescription drug abuse.”
In addition to the activation in Harrisburg-area high schools, as part of its commitment to creating safe and healthy environments for children and teens, The Rite Aid Foundation, through its KidCents program, will also fund the introduction of the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh markets in Pennsylvania as well as several communities in Washington, California, Michigan, Oregon and Ohio. In all, The Rite Aid Foundation made a three-year, $1.7 million commitment to the Prescription Drug Safety program, which is expected to reach more than 400 high schools.