The use and abuse of drugs, like opioids have a substantial impact on school performance in children and teens. Not only do grades suffer due to poor concentration, lack of focus and energy, but students also lose interest in healthy social and extra curricular activities. That’s why administrators in schools across West Virginia are taking a proactive approach.
Nurse Practitioner for McDowell County Schools Jennifer Fain said, “Each visit we talk about healthy lifestyle choices, increasing their activity, eating the right things, peer pressure. We discuss peer pressure with them. We also discuss avoiding drugs and substance abuse.”
Recent research from the University of Michigan found that 11% of high school athletes have used a narcotic pain reliever or an opioid such as OxyContin or Vicodin for nonmedical purposes. That means 1 in 9 have abused a prescription drug to get high. But, it doesn’t stop with athletes. It’s a trend McDowell County Superintendent Nelson Spencer says he’s aware of.
Spencer said, “There’s an epidemic but let me say we’ve never had to have anything like that in our schools here in McDowell and it’s something we want to avoid. We want to teach our kids to avoid those types of pit falls and those types of drugs because there’s no good ending to it. We’ve been lucky but we do want to have things there in case we were to ever have an unfortunate tragedy where someone overdosed near the school or at the school that we would have that availability to help them get better.”
Naloxone also known as narcan is an injectable medication and it can be administered under the skin and through the nose just to name a few. The drug is used to treat an opioid overdose.
Nurse Practitioner at Tug River Health Clinic at Riverview High School Jennifer Fain says they’ve had narcan since the clinic opened 8 years ago. The clinic at the school helps more than just students. Members of the community are welcome to come there for treatment as well.
Fain said, “We see more than just the students and the adolescences. We also see community adults of all ages. So, if someone would come in who would be overdosed on opioids, then narcan would be available to use.”
The clinic is open to people like Ryan Rowe.
Rowe said, “3 or 4 years ago I wrecked a coal truck and broke my back and I got prescribed roxy 30s. I was on those for about a year and then I got cut off. Well , during that year I had no idea that I was becoming addicted to the pain killers.”
Rowe knows first hand the danger opioid addiction presents. That’s why he’s behind educating students about the drugs and having narcan on hand.
Rowe said, “A real good thing. I think it’s a great thing because if they don’t teach them who will?”
For Fain, education goes beyond the walls of the schools. She wants to encourage anyone who may be struggling with opioid addiction.
Fain said, There’s help to get off of it. There’s resources they just have to seek the right people in order get in these treatment programs and to get off of them and know that there’s more than just that out there.”