Harrisburg School District starts prescription drug abuse program


Harrisburg High School’s Sci-Tech campus is the first in the area to add a prescription drug safety program to its curriculum. 

It’s all in an effort to educate students and motivate them to make a difference. 

“To educate these kids on what the symptoms are and how to deal with this type of thing, it’s neat. It’s a necessity for these kids,” said Quartay Brannon, a Harrisburg High student. 

Students talking about prescription drugs in high school is an important step in combatting the opioid crisis. 

“It’s imperative that we educate our students, enabling them to be change agents, to become active, informed and empowered members of our community,” superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney said.

A new digital prescription drug safety program will be available to Harrisburg High at no cost. It’s part of the Rite Aid Foundation’s three-year $1.7 million commitment to prescription drug safety. 

“Prescription drug abuse and opioid addiction are having an adverse impact on the communities that Rite Aid serves and we wanted to do more,” said Tracy Henderson, director of Rite Aid Foundation.  

Over the next three years, the program will be activated in more than 400 schools across the country. 

“This course is comprised of real life, interactive scenarios and self-guided activities that teach students about prescription drugs,” said Dan Miller, Rite Aid’s vice president of pharmacy regulatory affairs. 

Through lessons and quizzes, students are gaining a better understanding of prescription drugs. 

“The science behind drug addiction, if you see it and the signs of a friend or a stranger, how you can react or how you can help that person?” said Isaiah Valdez, a Harrisburg senior.

It’s a program that state health officials say is important, opening a dialogue to talk about addiction and stigma. 

“Programs like this are literally what we need. We need to educate the youth. We need for them to understand how this became a crisis and how we’re going to tackle it,” Deputy Health Secretary Raphael Barishansky said.

The program will soon roll out to other schools in Dauphin, Cumberland, and York counties. 

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