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High-school students should be taught dangers of opioids


Gov. Baker provided attainable approaches to combating the opioid crisis facing Massachusetts and, in turn, the United States. Baker is correct in putting some of the blame on the pharmaceutical companies that advertise highly addictive drugs. No doubt the “pain management” and “safe prescribing” of drugs in the educational aspect of medicine will be effective. But what about starting at a younger age?

As a student at Bridgewater State University studying social work, it is our job to strive for an educational system dedicated to the elimination of substance abuse. If this means starting education about opioids at a young age, then why not teach these young people as early as high school? There is an estimated 12.9 percent report rate of nonmedical use of prescription opioids among high-school seniors. The odds of substance abuse is greater among individuals who reported any history of nonmedical use of prescription opioids. Students at the end of their high-school career should be looking forward to the workforce or entering college, not abusing opioids.

It’s encouraging to see the 8.3 percent decrease in opioid deaths and overdoses since 2016. I applaud Gov. Baker in his attempts to highlight Massachusetts victories, especially if our state can be an example for the whole country. But if the children are our future, we should make sure they have one free of any constraints.

Heather McKenna


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