Costa Mesa, California; 29, July 2015: Teens all across the country are being shown the dangers of abusing opioids courtesy a new program known as the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education program, or NOPE for short.
The program was showcased at a Philadelphia high school, where students listened to the story of a mother's 911 call after finding her teenage son dead from a prescription painkiller overdose. Students heard the recording while passing around an urn with the ashes of her son and photos of teens who had died of drug overdoses. Around 500 students heard the recording in an early morning assembly, which was intended to serve as a "gut punch" anchoring the new program.
The NOPE program has so far launched in Illinois and Pennsylvania in order to address the rising number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses in suburbanites and youths. Around 71 percent of prescription drug overdose fatalities are the results of prescription opioids, and the deaths rose around 50 percent from 2010 to 2013 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The CDC has stated that 2013 saw more than 16,000 prescription opioid related deaths, and that there's a strong link between prescription opioid and heroin use. The reason is that those who develop a dependency on prescription opioids may turn to a less expensive opiate, such as heroin, to get the same effects.
The new program focuses on the epidemic of opiates resulting from the rise in prescription drug popularity among younger teens. Educators using the NOPE program make use of interactive programs and studies to show their students the science of addiction, as well as teaching teenagers the symptoms which indicate an overdose and how they can recognize them. If they suspect someone has overdosed, the program recommends teens get immediate medical help.
Unfortunately, the program has not yet been able to launch for a larger student audience due to cuts in funding. Budget cuts resulting from a general focus on academic testing appears to be to blame.
According to Christopher Adzia, who is the Robert Crown Center for Health Education program manager, the NOPE program "is really looking at adolescent brain development, addiction on a brain level."
So far the program appears to be working, and other states have started looking for legislation which would require their public schools to give programs which educate teens on prescription drug and prescription opioid abuse dangers.
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