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Press Release

Truth Initiative Partners with Pennsylvania’s Office of Attorney General to Provide Prescription Drug Safety Course, Powered by EVERFI from Blackbaud

Interactive digital resource will empower students in grades 8-12 with the skills and knowledge to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs and understanding of the dangers of fentanyl and counterfeit pills

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Truth Initiative, the organization behind truth®, the nationally recognized, proven-effective youth tobacco and opioid prevention public education campaigns, and EVERFI® from Blackbaud®, the leader in powering social impact through education, are teaming up once again to deliver Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth. The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General is supporting this important resource through its Community Drug Abuse Prevention (CDAP) grant program (made possible by the Substance Abuse Education and Demand Reduction Fund) to deliver the innovative digital course to students in grades 8-12 across the Commonwealth. The course educates students about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, including fentanyl, exploring the impact misuse can have on their physical and mental health, relationships, communities — and their futures.

The fentanyl overdose crisis continues to be a major problem for communities across the country, including in Pennsylvania. A potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl was involved in 84% of the more than 2,200 cases of reported adolescent drug overdose deaths that occurred from 2019 to 2021. The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 12.2% of high school students nationally — and 9% of high school students in Pennsylvania — had misused prescription opioids in their lifetime, with nearly half indicating they had misused them in the past 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, overdose deaths by counterfeit pills more than doubled from 2019 to 2021, and over half of those who died were age 35 or younger.

Through personal stories and interactive scenarios, students will learn about appropriate use, misuse, and the addictive potential of prescription drugs, treatment and recovery, and the dangers of fentanyl and counterfeit drugs. Truth Initiative and EVERFI will work with educators, administrators, and district-level officials to implement the program in line with local context and relevant themes.

“Equipping students with the knowledge and skills to prevent prescription drug misuse is crucial. Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth will empower Pennsylvania youth to become safe and informed users of medication, while also providing the tools to recognize and respond to an overdose situation,” said Kathy Crosby, the CEO and President of Truth Initiative. “Additionally, by educating students about the dangers of fentanyl, we are giving them the power to stay safe and protect others in their communities.”

The course comes as states increasingly allow school systems to stock naloxone, a powerful medication that can quickly reverse opioid overdose. About 53% of school nurses in Pennsylvania stock naloxone. Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and National Association of School Nurses (NASN) support supplying school staff with naloxone to save young lives.

Originally released in 2017, Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth guides students through real-world scenarios delivered in Truth Initiative’s authentic peer-to-peer voice. Thanks to the growing roster of schools leveraging the course, the program is expected to reach 250,000 students nationwide this school year, providing them with a better understanding of the growing youth fentanyl crisis and teaching them how to support others in situations involving prescription drug misuse and overdose.

“We applaud Attorney General Henry for her dedication to deploying this prevention education initiative across the Commonwealth to ensure students in all communities are provided critical education on prescription drug misuse, opioids, and fentanyl,” said Ray Martinez, co-founder and president, EVERFI from Blackbaud. “This educational resource has already been found to promote responsible behavior among teens and school districts are seeking out impactful and engaging resources to provide their students with the information needed not just to make healthy choices but also to fight the opioid and fentanyl crisis.”

A recent independent study found that EVERFI's Prescription Drug Safety course has a positive and lasting impact on students' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding safe prescription drug use. This impact was consistent across all genders, races and other demographics, demonstrating the program's ability to empower a broad range of students.

“An important part of the mission of the Office of Attorney General is to help educate young people to make good life choices,” said Attorney General Michelle Henry. “We all have a collective responsibility to show up for the youth and help them reach their full potential. Through education we can empower young people and communities to grow stronger, safer, and more prosperous.”

Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth is the latest collaboration between Truth Initiative and EVERFI and is available to schools at no cost. Previously, the organizations worked together on Vaping: Know the truth, a self-led interactive curriculum that provides students with facts on the health risks of e-cigarettes and nicotine use, and This is Quitting, a free and anonymous text message program from Truth Initiative that helps youth and young adults quit vaping nicotine.

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