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Indiana class on prescription-drug abuse for teens expands to 18 counties

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Reaching teens in school before they start abusing prescription drugs: That’s the goal of a program Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said is needed.

On Monday, he announced the expansion of an online class specifically for high schoolers. Hill and several partners plan to expand a free 45-minute class on prescription-drug abuse for teens in Marion County classrooms since earlier this year.

The program will be added in 18 more counties. 

In the online class, Hill said, teens learn about proper drug use and disposal through interactive scenarios and activities. They also learn what to do if they see misuse.

“The average age of a person dying from an overdose of drugs in Indiana is 19 years,” Hill said. “That’s where this digital course can be a literal lifesaver.” 

Is the pilot program working? 

Maddy Murphy, director of global partnerships at online education provider EverFi, said, “We had a self-report rate of 75 percent of students who took this course (who) said this course helped them become confident in their ability to A, identify signs of misuse, and B, intervene.” 

What about follow-up for students after the course? 

Murphy said, “We have discussion-guide questions that exist for teachers that they can implement in a variety of settings whether that’s an assignment for students to make a reflection on or do small-group discussion.” 

A mother of 4, Wendy Cook, was told Monday about the expansion plans. “Oh, that sounds fantastic!” she said. “As a mom and prevention specialist, we all want our kids to know about that.” 

Walmart pays for the program in Marion County. Paul Beahm, Walmart senior vice president for health and wellness, said in a statement: 

“As a dedicated community partner, Walmart strives to improve the health of families. Walmart’s work with the Prescription Drug Safety Network is a critical pillar in Walmart’s broader Opioid Stewardship initiative that addresses the opioid crisis from all angles, including providing disposal services, limiting prescriptions, and supporting policies around Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.”

North Central Health Services pays for the program in eight other counties: Benton, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Warren and White. 

Stephanie Long, president and CEO of North Central Health Services, said:

“Our organization’s vision is to create healthier communities through the delivery of behavioral health care and the support of technological and scientific advancement, education, quality of life, and humanitarian community activities.”

Hill’s office said it’s providing $20,000 annually for three years to offer the program in 10 counties: Crawford, Dearborn, Fayette, Henry, Jennings, Ripley, Scott, Starke, Switzerland and Washington.