Many states are requiring opioid education be added to their schools’ curriculum in order to better educate students on the insidious and deadly consequences of opiate abuse/misuse. However, Tennessee is currently not one of them. Where better for students to feel curious and be comfortable asking questions than in their classroom? Passing these type of education bills would ensure states require their respective Departments of Education to work with Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs/Law Enforcement/First Responders/Dept. of Mental Health to provide effective guidelines for school-based programs of instruction on substance abuse prevention.
In Pennsylvania, according to House Bill 1190, each school district is required to provide every school mandatory instruction in substance abuse prevention and intervention every school year in grades kindergarten through 12. School districts required to integrate instruction in substance abuse prevention into their health courses or in any other appropriate curriculum required by the State Board of Education. The program includes instruction in controlled substance and prescription drug abuse/misuse, including illicit drugs. Ohio’s House Bill 367 goes so far as to require that its Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team give the Ohio Department of Education recommendations on opioid abuse prevention that can be/are published online. An excerpt from the bill is as follows, “Health education, which shall include instruction in: (f) Prescription opioid abuse prevention, with an emphasis on the prescription drug epidemic and the connection between prescription opioid abuse and addiction to other drugs, such as heroin.” Michigan’s Bill 4407 was introduced as part of a package of bills to combat opioid abuse. It is similar to Ohio’s bill to provide K-12 students with instruction on the dangers of prescription opioid use. If the bill passes, the program will begin in the 2018-2019 school year. West Virginia’s bill/law includes a requirement for middle and high school health classes to include at least 60 minutes instruction on opioid misuse, the addictive characteristics of opioids and pain treatment alternatives. Maryland’s “Start Talking Maryland Act”
West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Michigan have bills or have created legislation/laws that require opioid education within their school systems.
How can I do that?
- Elect representatives and back legislation that will add age appropriate opioid and substance abuse/misuse education in schools.
-Find out where your representative stands on this issue.
-Contact your representatives to let them know that this is a high priority for you and for your community.
- Sign petitions to lend your support.
- Reach out to your local drug coalition or school board to let them know your concerns for the students in your community, seek their assistance in contacting elected officials and even potentially to collaborate with them on legislation for your community.