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DEA Launches Virtual Program to Prevent Against Drug Use and Addiction

The Drug Enforcement Administration is partnering with Discovery Education to launch a new program today that uses virtual reality to educate America’s students about drug use and addiction to ultimately prevent against both.

Called "Operation Prevention," the efforts are in response to a growing opioid and heroin problem.

The program is designed to "combat a growing epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use nationwide,” according to OperationPrevention.com.

"Operation Prevention's mission is to educate students about the true impacts of opioids and kick-start lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom.”

The virtual field trip, described as a “virtual town hall," will run for about 30 to 45 minutes and is free for any classroom or viewer to stream on their device. Streaming will begin at 1:00 PM EDT and registration is open now. For those who aren’t able to participate in the live viewing, registration is still useful because all registrants will be notified when the live event is archived for anytime viewing.

Throughout the forum, participating students can and are encouraged to submit questions to the DEA agents and pharmacologists leading the forum. Questions may be answered during the live event.

After the event is over, teachers are encouraged to use the free resources the DEA and Discovery Education have compiled to keep drug and addiction education going.

Resources include a free high school lesson plan complete with a downloadable lesson and educator’s guide (a middle school lesson plan is coming soon) and a parent toolkit that facilitates conversations happening at home. 

Students also have the opportunity to compete to win $10,000 in a video challenge that will kick-off in December.

Through the contest, “[s]tudents have the power to send a message to their peers about the dangers of drug abuse by creating a 30-60 second original Public Service Announcement,” the website says.

The prevention problem aims to educate America’s future adults about the dangers of addiction at a time when opioid and heroin addiction rates have never been higher.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), in 2014, 1.9 million Americans 12 or older suffered from an addiction to opioids while 586,000 suffered from a heroin addiction.

More alarmingly, ASAM says that opioids are the driving force behind the rising number of drug overdoses year after year.

The DEA and Discovery Education hope that reaching out and providing the facts while tackling the misconceptions will help students make the right choices when forced to do so.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/25/2016

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