Heroin in the Heartland

60 minLast night (11/1/15) the CBS News show 60 Minutes ran a story entitled “Heroin in the Heartland.” As part of this story a graduate from Worthington Kilbourne HIgh School was interviewed.    The premise of the CBS story is that heroin is cheap, easy to get, and in the words of CBS, “used by the kids next door.”

Sadly, there is nothing in this news story that is surprising to many of us.  For several years now we have worked with families whose children have become addicted to prescription pain medication and/or heroin.  We’ve lost several Worthington graduates to this epidemic.  What we’ve learned through working with these families is that addiction can happen to anyone.  The families affected by this addiction are “good” families who have “good” kids.  Unfortunately, once addiction begins it is very, very difficult to overcome.

As a school district we have worked to be proactive in our approach to educating students and families about opiate abuse. We have partnered with organizations such as “Drug Safe Worthington” to bring in speakers for our students and families. We’ve hosted “Tyler’s Light” and “Operation Street Smart” multiple times in order to better educate our community.  Several years ago we partnered with the Worthington Police so they could  implement a prescription drug drop box so residents could easily dispose of pain medication (this is critical as most opiate addiction begins as prescription pain medication abuse found in family medicine cabinets before escalating to heroin).

Several years ago Worthington devoted a full-time teaching position to working with our students and community to help them remain drug free and to help decrease bullying in our schools.  Lori Povisil (lpovisil@wscloud.org) works in this capacity to coordinate student-led initiatives to live drug free.  In addition, she teaches parent education classes called “Insight” in an effort to allow parents to partner with their children to make good choices. And, over the past three years our school district has added three mental health specialists that work to connect students and families to positive resources before students turn to substances.  Finally, just last month we made the decision to partner with local law enforcement to bring drug sniffing dogs into our schools.

All of these efforts are important and part of a comprehensive approach to helping our students.  As a school district we will continue to be diligent.  The 60 Minutes story sheds light on the fact that heroin is a problem in our community and in every community like ours across the nation.  I’m proud that a graduate of Worthington Kilbourne High School had the courage to speak to 60 Minutes and I’m hopeful that this story, and that courage, will spur others to have open conversation about addiction and abuse.  As a community we must partner together to help keep our kids safe.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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