Attorney General Morrisey’s Drug Prevention Program Reaches More Than 8,150 Students

Updated 1 year ago Edited from a Press Release
CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s expanded partnership to fight opioid abuse reached more than 8,150 middle school students during the 2017-18 academic year.

The Attorney General’s youth prevention initiative teamed with colleges across West Virginia to equip nursing, pharmacy and health education students to effectively educate eighth graders about the dangers of prescription opioid abuse.

“Keeping students engaged about the dangers of opioid use encourages them to make healthy life choices as they move into adulthood,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Teaming up with our higher education partners has greatly expanded the breadth and impact of our outreach to middle school students. We must raise awareness to save another generation from the grip of addiction and senseless death.”

The initiative, launched in March 2017 with West Virginia University’s School of Nursing, expanded in the fall semester to also include Marshall University’s School of Nursing, West Virginia University’s School of Pharmacy and Shepherd University’s Department of Nursing Education. 

Concord University’s Department of Health, Physical Education and Athletic Training joined for the spring semester.

Those additions broadened the program’s geographic reach and enabled the team to make approximately 50 school visits during the academic year. 

The Attorney General’s Office coordinated events and provided the colleges with a detailed curriculum, which the college students then presented to eighth grade students. The curriculum covers multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic, including the connection between prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction, prevention and the long-term impact of drug use.

The program was well-received by school administrators, including Poca Middle School Counselor Rebecca Bennett. 

“Unfortunately, the area we live in is at the center of the drug crisis in this country,” Bennett said upon the program’s visit to her school. “As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to equip our children with the tools that will keep them from getting involved with drugs in the first place.  We need to start the conversation while they are young, so that from an early age they will learn the dangers of that lifestyle, and hopefully it will feel like a natural choice to avoid it.”

The collaboration with each university represents one initiative through which the Attorney General has sought to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate. Another is the widely successful Kids Kick Opioids public service announcement contest, also targeted at raising drug prevention awareness with elementary and middle school students.

Other efforts include criminal prosecutions, civil litigation, major change of drug policies, multistate partnerships, engagement with the faith-based community, a best practices toolkit endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders and other awareness programs, including the office's high school football game of the week initiative.
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