The opioid crisis is ongoing in the United States. In 2016, more Americans died from opioid overdoses than car crashes. Anyone can become addicted to opioids as these drugs can be easily obtained through a prescription, and when they are misused can become a deadly addiction. 

With this kind of epidemic, one of the main ways to fight it is by educating people about substance abuse and opioid addiction. This education starts within the school system.  

How Schools Educate Children about Substance Abuse

Children spend nine months out of the year in school. These educational institutions put forth a great effort to make sure that children learn both academic and drug education. This is so they can make smart and informed decisions in their future. Here are a few things that local schools do to help spread opioid knowledge. 

Theme-Specific Days

Many schools have put into effect specific days or weeks where drug-specific education is emphasized. Some examples of this are Drug Week, where students focus on drug education, including opioids for a full week. Another day where this is emphasized is Drug Take-Back Day, an event run by the Drug Enforcement Agency which allows students to get rid of prescription drugs anonymously. For many students trying to escape addiction, this is their only way to get rid of their pills that they are trying to stop using. Making a full day of it emphasizes the importance of prescription drug abuse. 

School Programs 

In many schools, there are government-run programs that help students learn more about substance abuse. One of the most popular programs is the D.A.R.E program. The program stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and is led by the community. Law enforcement takes part in this education to help children ask questions and get a unique perspective that their regular teachers do not have. Law enforcement helps educate students on the latest rules and regulations about drug abuse. 

Online Resources 

Online education is becoming more popular and accessible to many school educators. Multiple websites are available to educators that allow them to get government-approved material to teach in class. Some of these websites are Get Smart About Drugs and made specifically for drug abuse. This website provides facts on opioids and how it affects the body. The National Institute of Health also offers excellent content created explicitly for educators as well. They provide links to different programs and have a resource guide for educators to reference if they need more information.  

What Parents or Guardians Can Do to Help

When a child comes home from school, parents will be the first people they reach out to talk about their day. It is essential to pay attention to your child. Make sure they feel heard and also support the teachings they have been given about opioids and other substances. If possible, you can even add on to their education by reinforcing their lessons by finding fun activities for them to do at home.  

Parent involvement in school functions shows support for your child’s school. If your child’s school is doing something for D.A.R.E. week, then see what you can do to take part. It can even be something as small as bringing snacks or being a chaperone to a related field trip. Showing support for these events will give the message to your child that you support what’s being taught. 

Encourage healthy hobbies that can be crucial to helping your child stay away from opioids and other substances. Young teens may turn to drugs due to stress and anxiety or even peer pressure. However, having your child build healthy hobbies that can redirect their energy, anxieties or stress will make it so that they have less reason to turn to drug abuse. 

With building healthy habits, another thing that a parent can encourage their child to participate in are school activities. This can range from taking part in some of the drug-free weeks and the specific events happening around campus. This also means having your child participate in extracurricular activities that encourage happy and healthy choices. Putting your child in a positive, drug-free environment will allow them to learn that they can have fun without substance abuse. 

What if my child is acting differently? 

If you notice that your child is acting differently or suspect that they may be using opioids or other substances, then the best approach would be to talk to them. Having an open and honest conversation with your child is the best way to confront them. You will notice your child is acting differently if they show signs of drug abuse. They also may be suspicious if their behavior is more erratic. If you see your child is hanging out with different friends, or not hanging out with people when they usually, then you should talk to them. 

If your child is experiencing opioid addiction or if you think they might be dealing with substance abuse, then please seek professional help. Working with experts in substance abuse will help you find the best treatment plan for your child. Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford has many types of treatment plans for opioid abuse. They allow inpatient and outpatient options that can be adjusted to fit your child’s schedule to make the whole situation less stressful. For some students, this can be a challenging time, and it is best to make this process as smooth as possible. 

It is never too late to learn about addiction. Schools play a valuable part in this process and help teach students how to make educated decisions about substance abuse. If you would like to learn more about drug abuse, or treatment for drug abuse, than reach out to your local recovery center. It’s never too late to fight against opioid abuse, and the first way to do that is through education.