Rite Aid Foundation brings prescription drug safety effort to Ohio schools

The Rite Aid Foundation is looking to curb drug abuse and misuse among adolescents in Ohio with its latest effort. The organization has brought its Prescription Drug Safety program, a digital course developed by education technology company Everfi, to Akron-area schools in Summit and Stark counties at no cost.

The new program launch was held at Firestone Community Learning Center, and was attended by representatives from Rite Aid, Akron Public Schools and Rep. Time Ryan. The school si the first of the Akron Public Schools locations that will incorporate the program into their health education curricula. The school district will bring the program to 20 high schools in the next year.

"The abuse of prescription drugs and opioids is a serious national crisis that threatens the health, safety and wellbeing of our young people," said Tracy Henderson, director of the Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. "One of Rite Aid's core values is to be a caring neighbor, involved in meaningful ways in the communities we serve, especially if it involves improving the health and wellbeing of children. We are proud to introduce this critical prevention education program and provide Akron-area students with the skills and knowledge to prevent the dangerous cycle of abuse before it occurs."

The program uses a public health approach to share knowledge with high school students that they can use to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs, the Rite Aid Foundation said. It uses interactive scenarios and self-guided activities to share facts about drugs, safe disposal and intervention in situations that involve misuse. It is an issue that has had a large impact in Ohio, where in 2017 there were 5,111 deaths attributed to opioid-related overdoses — more than double the national average.

"There isn't a community in the United States that hasn't been affected by the opioid epidemic. It demands our full attention and requires not only treatment but prevention as well,” said Ryan, who co-chairs of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and is a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. “It's partnerships like Rite Aid and EVERFI that will help in educating our young people to make safe, sound, and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. With this kind of outreach and awareness, we can tackle the drug abuse ravaging our nation and prevent any more opioid overdose deaths from ever happening again."

In addition to its efforts in the Akron area, the Rite Aid Foundation will fund the Prescription Drug Safety program’s introduction to high schools in Ohio’s Lucas County and communities in Washington, California, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania through its KidCents program. The foundation has made an overall three-year commitment of $1.7 million to the program and expects it to be rolled out to more than 400 high schools.