School district holds program on the impact of drugs

WESTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday evening, parents, guardians and members of the Hampshire Regional School Community will have an opportunity to learn more about opiate drug use.

The program at Hampshire Regional High School with Dr. Ruth Potee of the District Attorney’s Opioid task force begins at 6:30PM.

Heroin and the use of other opiate drugs is a statewide problem. The Governor declared a public health emergency this year, after nearly 200 people in less than six months died of an overdose.

Mary Phelan, the Health Coordinator for the Hampshire Regional School District told 22News, “I don’t believe that we have seen anything in school but when we read the paper we look at the state data and there clearly is an issue.”

The drug Narcan is being widely used to counter the affects of an overdose. Phelan told 22News, Narcan is not kept in the school, but two people on staff are trained to administer the drug.

A Hampshire Regional guidance counselor told 22News drug use can affect student life inside and outside of school.

“What I try to do is to get them to talk to their parent about it or I talk to the student and the parent to try to show the student the impact of their drug use on their grades, on their future potential and on their relationship with their parents,” said Patti Richmond.

Hampshire Regional Schools says their program is meant to be proactive, giving parents information about the science of addiction, the signs and symptoms of drug use and how drugs affect a developing brain.

“A lot of us think that the kids we know could never go there, or associate with drugs, but it happens. One of the things that I work with my kids on is what do they do and say when they are in situations where there is peer pressure,” said Speech and Language Pathologist Lynn Hicks.

Hampshire Regional says after Thursday’s program, they’ll follow up with an assembly geared toward students, to get a dialogue going between students and their families.

Overdose deaths of opioids increased 90-percent between 2002 and 2012.

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