CAMP HILL, Pa. — In an effort to help address adolescent drug abuse and misuse in the state of Washington, The Rite Aid Foundation is bringing the Prescription Drug Safety program, an innovative digital course about prescription drug abuse prevention, to Seattle-area high schools.
The program, developed by EVERFI, the nation’s leading technology innovator used in one in seven schools nationwide, will be made available to high schools in the Seattle-Tacoma Metro area, which includes King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, at no cost. Representatives of The Rite Aid Foundation and Washington State announced the launch of the new program during a press conference and demonstration at Evergreen High School.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in prescription drug abuse and misuse, and it has become a national health problem that poses a serious threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of our young people,” said Kermit Crawford, president and chief operating officer of Rite Aid Corporation and president of The Rite Aid Foundation. “The Rite Aid Foundation is proud to introduce this important prevention education to Seattle-area students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five high school seniors admits to misusing prescription drugs. It’s more important than ever to reach out to our students and arm them with the knowledge to prevent abuse before it occurs.”
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’s National Health Education Standards and state academic standards. There is also a microsite with additional resources including parent guides and information on local safe medication disposal.
On average, two people die each day in Washington from opioid overdoses. That includes deaths from prescription and synthetic opioids, as well as heroin. While prescription opioid overdoses are down, overdoses from heroin are on the rise.
“Opioid addiction among Washington students is a growing concern. Studies show more and more young people are abusing prescription drugs.,” said Ken Turner, program supervisor, Health and Physical Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). “Prevention education to high school students is a critical piece of solving this epidemic. We are extremely grateful for The Rite Aid Foundation’s commitment to help our state’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis.”
Across Highline Public Schools, the six-lesson online Prescription Drug Safety program is being implemented as part of the health education program. Evergreen High School is the first Seattle-area school to integrate the program into its curriculum. Over the next year, 60 other local high schools will activate the program.
“At Evergreen High School, we strive to provide a well-rounded educational experience that prepares students to live their best lives and this includes health and wellness. As a community-centered school, we partner with numerous community organizations in and outside the school to provide ongoing relevant and meaningful drug and alcohol prevention and intervention programming,” said Evergreen High School Principal Jacqueline Downey. “We are thrilled to have the support of The Rite Aid Foundation to provide this program on appropriate prescription drug use that we will use in our health classes.”
In addition to the activation in Seattle and Tacoma-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 Ohio, California, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania. 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.
Through KidCents, members of Rite Aid’s loyalty program, wellness+ rewards, can round up their in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar and give their change to one of more than 440 nonprofit organizations focused on improving the health and wellbeing of children. For more information, visit www.kidcents.com.