Our 8th graders had the privilege to attend The Massachusetts Youth Summit on Opioid Awareness as part of the health curriculum. The Summit on Opioid Awareness aims to promote healthy choices and educate students about the dangers of opioid use. The goal of the program is to educate young people, educators and other adults about the growing opioid epidemic and encourage healthy decision-making. An essential ingredient to a solution is stopping the spread of addiction through a message of abstaining from experimentation – if less young people are experimenting with these highly addictive drugs, less will fall victim to this often-fatal disease of addiction. The program seeks to educate students, teachers, and parents about the dangers, warning signs, and effects of opioid abuse, and also connect them with resources to deal with opioid abuse. Most of all, the program aims to recognize and promote healthy choices and demonstrate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Signs of opioid abuse or misuse may include:
- Abrupt changes in their finances
- Dramatic mood changes
- Lower grades, changes in friends, or changes in sleep or appetite
- Loss of concern about appearance
- Physical signs such as fatigue, confusion, weight loss, slurred speech, dizziness and changes in pupil size Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Tips for Protecting Your Kids Against Addiction
Facts about Opioids:
- 4/5 new heroin users started out by abusing prescription painkillers.
- Approximately 40% of drug overdose deaths in 2014 were from prescription pain relievers. American Society of Addiction Medicine: Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures
- 1,531 unintentional overdose deaths occurred in Massachusetts during the year 2015. Current estimates for the first 6 months of 2016 are higher than the first six months of 2015 MA DPH Data Brief: Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Among Massachusetts Residents
- Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. American Society of Addiction Medicine: Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures
- Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. Center for Disease Control Drug Overdose Data