Over the last few decades, prescription drug abuse has become an increasingly serious threat to public health in the United States. According to National Public Radio, life expectancy fell for the second year in a row in 2016, led by an increase in deaths from opioid overdoses. The surge in opioid-related fatalities shows that the epidemic is accelerating.

As educators, we see firsthand how our students, their families, and our communities are impacted by opioid addiction. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (January 22-28) is a timely opportunity for schools to spend some time focusing on prescription drug abuse prevention in the classroom. Hear from Jeannette Barreto, an EVERFI educator in Montana who began implementing the Prescription Drug Safety resource this fall.

Jeannette Barreto

“I knew this resource was a good one when one of my students was talking to our principal and he was actually quoting information from the course.”

Jeannette Barreto, teacher

What caught your attention about the Prescription Drug Safety resource and made you decide to try it out with your class?

I’ve been using EVERFI programs for years, but this fall I received an email from EVERFI discussing their new courses and the prescription drug mention caught my attention. I liked the fact that it was evidenced-based and at the same time was interactive to keep the students’ attention. The program itself was not extremely long, so the students were still interested by the end of the course.

How has your experience with the resource been so far?

The resource is excellent. I knew it was good when students started asking questions about what they were learning or discussing the content with their parents. The resources were both well written and interesting. It starts with the presentation and then moves to the science of addiction and how to understand prescriptions and use them safely.

How do you connect what you’re teaching offline with the online lessons?

I use the EVERFI program to simply start a conversation with my juniors and seniors about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. It was interesting because we had just watched a CNN news article about opioid overdose and we had talked about it. This course was a great stepping stone for conversation and unraveling the misinformation that they had.  

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to teachers using this resource for the first time?

The one piece of information I would pass to any teacher is to complete the course themselves first and prepare to ask for parent and/or administration consent. We’ve created a space for students to ask for help should they need it, so keep all parties informed. I also always complete the course myself so I can guide my students over any pitfall they might encounter while engaging with the program. I also review the built-in assessments so I can answer questions when they find themselves in a bind during a quiz.

EVERFI’s Prescription Drug Safety course is an interactive online resource that helps students learn the facts about drugs, how to properly use and dispose of them, and how to step in when faced with a situation involving misuse. This program is available at no cost to schools across the country.

Students work independently through six online lessons that are 5-10 minutes in length. Lesson topics include:

  • Opioids, stimulants, and depressants
  • Proper prescription drug use, storage, and disposal
  • Brain and body: the science of addiction
  • Simulations: refusal and bystander skills
  • Debunking common myths

Teachers have access to robust measurement and assessment tools to track their students’ knowledge gains, and additional resources such as a curriculum guide and supplementary lesson plans.

Are you interested in bringing Prescription Drug Safety to your school? Connect with us and we will contact you to provide access to the program free of charge.

Diana Bravo is a K-12 Schools Manager based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She helps teachers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa to implement EVERFI’s digital learning programs. Prior to joining EVERFI, she was a third-grade teacher, most recently at the American School in Quito, Ecuador. In her free time, Diana volunteers at the Minnesota Literacy Council where she enjoys teaching critical skills to adult ESL students in her neighborhood.