Carbondale High School implements first prescription drug safety program in NEPA
CARBONDALE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WOLF) -- A new online course could change the way young people understand and respond to the opioid epidemic.
"We've come to the realization that this is not an issue we can arrest our way out of," said Carbondale Police Chief Brian Bognatz, who intimately knows the role the opioid epidemic plays in his community.
"Virtually all of our crimes are the result of drugs," he said.
Northeast PA knows that hard truth, too.
"In Pennsylvania, it has some of the highest death rates for opioid death overdoses in the country, which is staggering," said Tracy Henderson, Director of the Rite Aid Foundation.
But Chief Bognatz see a way to fight the crisis that doesn't end in handcuffs: by educating at the age that abuse begins.
"If we can prevent the person from starting to use drugs in the first place, that's a huge step into addressing this issue in a proactive manner," he said.
At Carbondale High school Friday, seniors proudly held up certificates, earned after completing an interactive online course developed by EVERFI and sponsored by the Rite Aid Foundation.
That sponsorship makes it free to the school - and it's the first in the region.
"It's definitely more realistic and gives it more of a personal feel than someone just telling you 'this could happen and it could be bad," described Carbondale HS Senior Madison Hayner.
The course goes through videos and questions that allow students to envision real life scenarios.
They say it's enlightening and empowering, and district leaders say it's a game changer.
"It's going to change my life because now, ever since I took the course, I can help my family and friends and let them know what to do and how to recover and how to get help," said Senior David Malabe.
Half the Carbondale seniors at one table raised their hands when we asked if they know someone impacted by drug abuse.
Malabe says some of his friends and family starting abusing drugs after the loss of his grandmother and uncle.
"When I seen it, from my point of view, it hurt me because I don't want to lose nobody else," he said.
"I firmly believe that this is going to take off like wildfire. How can it not?" asked Chief Bognatz, who feels every school should use this program.
Carbondale is the first school in our area to implement the program, as part of their health class curriculum.
You can find more information on EVERFI's Prescription Drug Safety Program here.