Last year, over 2,000 people, said to be a record-breaking number, died of drug and alcohol overdoses. To address this, legislators in the state passed a law that will require students to be educated four times over their academic career about the dangers of opioids, especially heroin.
Drug addiction had become a state of emergency for Maryland
Under this new law, students will receive state-approved education on opioids twice while they are in elementary school, once in high school, and once more at the college level for incoming full-time students. The law will be applied to all institutions of higher education that receive state money, and so will also include private colleges as well. The law will also require campus police and public safety officers to be prepared with naloxone, which can be used to treat overdoses.
However, there is some concern if these new drug education programs, like with similar drug education programs that appear on campuses even today, will make any improvements or will just be a repeat of similar programs in the past.
“This is going to require a variety of different responses and a variety of different channels to solve,” said Tammy Wincup, chief operating officer of EverFi, a prescription-drug safety and addiction-prevention programming that serves Maryland colleges, adding, “What we should be held to — what we should all be held to — is, ‘Are we moving in the right direction?’”
Do these programs have any promise, or is this a repeat of D.A.R.E.?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Courtney Lenard, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that, “There isn’t much evidence about the effectiveness of educational programs among college students, but in terms of programs for adolescent populations, effective programs are those that go beyond traditional messaging and also promote positive youth development and skills.”
According to Lenard, these new education programs could look promising, but more data that is still needed. As she added, “Interventions have shown longitudinal effects on a range of other substance misuse and problem behaviors and have evidence supporting economic benefits…Although these results are extremely promising, the sample sizes were small — there was an overall low rate of prescription opioid misuse — and it is yet unclear how such findings might generalize to populations broader than those studied.”
(H/T: Inside Higher Ed)