FORT SMITH, Ark. (News release) - In conjunction with National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today launched a first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” at Fort Smith Southside High School. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse.
Southside High School is the first institution to use the program in the country after Rutledge announced the creation of the initiative in July, which comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas.
“If Prescription for Life helps save just one life and creates a dialogue with high school students about opioid abuse, then the program is a success,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is the first in the nation to launch such an educational program, and it is my goal that it will become a model for other states to adopt. I know that Fort Smith Southside will not regret bringing this curriculum to their classrooms.”
Rutledge observed a class of students going through the 30-minute course, which was followed up with a post-assessment survey to measure changes in students’ attitudes and behavior.
“Prescription for Life is key to educating young Arkansans on how to avoid substance abuse,” said State Drug Director Kirk Lane. “This program will save lives and be a positive influence on Arkansas's health and safety.”
“We are honored to be the first school to be involved in the launch of the Prescription for Life curriculum,” said Southside Principal Wayne Haver.
Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digital course empowers high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.
The self-paced modular course uses video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs.
Rutledge plans to launch the program in Jonesboro High School on Wednesday and expects more schools to begin using the program in the coming weeks.
Educators from the Attorney General’s office are also available to conduct teacher in-service trainings in person and through webcasts and give presentations to parent and community groups throughout the State about how to talk with young people about risks associated with opioid use and how to recognize signs that their loved ones are abusing drugs.
The curriculum is part of the Attorney General’s already robust prescription drug abuse prevention initiative. During 2016, more than 330 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas and over 160 pounds have been collected since the beginning of 2017. The sixth annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, hosted by Rutledge, is scheduled for Nov. 9 in Hot Springs with over 850 taking advantage of early bird registration.
Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, according to data from the State Crime Lab. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that between 59,000 and 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, up from 52,404 in 2015 and double the death rate a decade ago. That is more than the number of deaths from car accidents in 2016. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of drug overdose deaths – six out of 10 – involve an opioid.
Find more information about the program and how to bring it to schools or other settings at ArkansasAG.gov.
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