Carroll County Confronts Substance Abuse Through Education

School-based outreach and education the focal point of Carroll County substance abuse awareness and prevention efforts.

In the face of a heroin and prescription opioid epidemic, the Carroll County Health Department, Public Schools, State’s Attorneys Office, Sheriff’s Office and other county agencies have joined forces to help educate students on the dangers of addiction. The effort endeavors to break the cycle of addiction before it starts through prevention and awareness.

As reported in The Carroll County Times:

In Carroll County Public Schools, substance abuse education is incorporated into the health curriculum, in accordance with national and state standards. Every student in kindergarten through eighth grade has a health class with a drug unit, said Dawn Rathgeber, CCPS assistant supervisor of health education.

Courses incorporate information on drug and alcohol abuse that is “age appropriate,” focusing on decision-making and self-advocacy skills, Rathgeber said.

High-school students are required to take a health course, which also includes a drug unit, in ninth or 10th grade for graduation, Rathgeber said. Students can also take electives in Health II and Honors Health III.

The school system has developed partnerships with different county agencies, such as the health department and local police departments, to educate students about substance abuse. Resource officers from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office provide instruction to students throughout the county, and officers from different law enforcement agencies periodically do safety checks, Rathgeber said.

The article notes that the county has embarked on a new initiative that allows students to hear first hand from individuals who have suffered from addition or its negative impacts.

Since October, members of the State’s Attorney’s Office and addiction recovery advocates have been holding assemblies at high schools throughout the county to show students the negative impacts that drugs can have on their lives. Part of the program involves young people, like Sabock, who struggle with addiction to share their stories.

The assemblies are also conducted in combination with a drug awareness poster program. One winner at each school is selected to receive a $250 prize. At the end of the year, the winner from each year will be entered in a countywide contest for the opportunity to win $1,000. Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said his plan is to use student work from the poster competition as a way to elevate drug awareness and prevention. The program is funded using drug forfeiture money.

“It really is a way to invest in preventing the people that are overdosing and committing crimes a couple of years from now,” DeLeonardo said.

For more information read the full article in The Carroll County Times.