Online course aims to teach college students about prescription drug dangers

WASHINGTON — The effort to help college students stay safe now includes an online course on prescription drug safety — a course many institutions require first-year students to take before even setting foot on campus.

“EVERFI has a campus prevention network that’s made up of about 1,800 colleges and universities across the U.S. that use our prevention programming across three topics: Alcohol prevention, sexual assault prevention and now. most recently, prescription drug safety,” said the company’s Jennifer Hoffman.

The Association for Accessible Medicines is making the course available free to any college that wants it.

More than 33,000 students nationwide took the prescription drug safety course as incoming freshmen for the 2017/18 school year and Hoffman said, surveys show that it’s making a positive impression.

“Students feel more prepared to intervene when they see a sign of (drug) abuse, and more importantly, students now know where to go on campus for additional resources and support should they be struggling with an abuse issue or have a friend struggling with addiction,” Hoffman said.

The online course informs students about opioids, stimulants and depressants. It walks them through the therapeutic benefits of the drugs and what potential there is for misuse that can lead to addiction.

“It was interactive, and gave you real-life scenarios,” said Kaelan Keller, a senior at Frostburg State University.

Keller is president of the Burg Peer Education Network. He studies psychology and wants to become an addiction counselor, to help people with recovery.

“I really liked how interactive it was,” Keller said of the course. One scenario involves a classmate asking you to give her one of your prescription pills.

“And it will give you the consequence of what could happen. If you give her the pill she might have an adverse effect because she doesn’t have the same weight as you, the same body type, and [may be a] different gender. … It gives you cause and effect.”

Frostburg State is among the universities requiring incoming students to take the prevention programs on alcohol abuse, sexual assault and now prescription drug safety.

“The student body has to take the course. And if they don’t take it, there’ll be a hold on their account, so they won’t be able to register for their classes,” Keller said.

In Maryland, 12 schools are already using alcohol abuse and sexual assault prevention curriculum:

  • University of Maryland, College Park  
  • Towson University 
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • University of Baltimore
  • Frostburg State University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Morgan State University
  • McDaniel College
  • Hood College
  • Montgomery College
  • Coppin State University
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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