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Last Updated: Jan 10th, 2018 - 08:52:43

School district discusses opioid prevention strategies
Jan 10, 2018, 08:51

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The Crossett School District is looking into implementing a program the state attorney general’s office launched earlier this year to combat opioid use.

Superintendent Gary Williams told the Crossett School Board Monday that the district was in the process of finding out more about the program.

The initiative, which Attorney General Leslie Rutledge launched last year and has since been adopted by 26 schools around the state, uses a digital platform to educate students about prescription drug abuse. It also offers prevention strategies to educators.

“Talking about the harmful impact of prescription drug abuse with children and teenagers can no longer be a goal. It has to be a reality,” Rutledge said when she launched the program in July. “Arkansas ranks first in the nation for ages 12 to 17 in misuse of painkillers.”

Williams’ announcement that the school district was considering the program came after Crossett’s Assistant Police Chief, Jerry Bortell, addressed the board about the potential of the opioid abuse epidemic spreading within the school district.

Bortell said that while opoid abuse among teens isn’t a big problem currently, “It is coming.”

“The only thing I can tell you is to get the drug dogs in more often,” Bortell said. “We are no different than any other community — everybody is facing it.”
Bortell said the school district could tell its staff to be vigilant in other ways.

“If the custodians see a pill when they are sweeping up, don’t just throw it away, pick it up and show it to the principal,” he said. “If they have it, (students) are going to drop it. If they see a principal coming, they will drop it.”

School board member Eddie Goodson said he had asked Bortell to address the board so the district could know how to start approaching the matter.

“This issue is here, it is here to stay,” Goodson said. “It is the issue we will be facing for the forseeable future. We need to get a handle on it before we see our kids — or our staff — on the side of the road overdosed. It is not just a kid problem.”

--For the complete story, see the print edition.