Rite Aid Foundation brings opioid education to Portland schools

The Rite Aid Foundation is bringing its Prescription Drug Safety Program to schools in Portland, Ore., in an attempt to curb drug abuse and misuse among teens. The program, a digital course about prescription drug abuse prevention, was developed Everfi, and will be available to high schools in Oregon’s Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties at no cost.

The availability was announced at a press conference alongside U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Centennial School District officials.

"The rise of prescription drug misuse and abuse is one of the fastest-growing drug problems in the United States, and it's having an adverse effect on the physical and mental health of our nation's young people," said Tracy Henderson, director of the Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. "We are proud to bring this important prevention program to Oregon students to educate them on the risks of prescription drug misuse and abuse and help combat this growing epidemic."

Oregon’s secretary of state recently conducted an audit that found the state ranks sixth for teen opioid drug abuse and is the worst in the country for treatment and recovery support for teens. The Prescription Drug Safety Program aims to empower high schoolers with skills and knowledge that will enable them to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. It includes interactive scenarios and self-guided activities that instruct students about properly using and disposing of prescription drugs, as well as how to step in when misuse is taking place. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Education Standards, as well as state academic standards.

"The opioid crisis continues to harm communities large and small across America," said Blumenauer said. “As a member of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Health. "Every day that we delay addressing this epidemic, communities decline, families unravel, and lives are lost. We need to help our children understand prescription drug abuse and misuse in order to prevent it before it starts."

Centennial High School is implementing the six-lesson program as part of its health education program. The program is expected to be adopted by at least 20 area high schools in the next year.

"Educating our students must include addressing the challenges and real-world issues they face in their daily lives as members of our community, including prescription drug abuse and misuse," said Paul Coakley, superintendent of Centennial Public Schools. "This innovative, new program will enable us to prepare our students to make smart, healthy decisions about prescription drugs and empower them to be part of the solution to combatting this epidemic."

The program’s implementation is funded through Rite Aid’s KidCents program, which also will fund the program’s introduction in Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, Washington and Ohio. The Rite Aid Foundation has made a $1.7 million commitment to the program, which is expected to reach more than 400 high schools.