Helping educate students on avoiding addiction

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Experts call the increase in opioid-related deaths a public health emergency. Substance abuse counselors acknowledge addiction hijacks the brain. But before that happens, local students are learning to avoid risky behavior.

Third-graders at Iveland Elementary in the Ritenour School District are learning how to avoid addiction. The district collaborates with the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to tackle addiction before it takes root.

“There is abundant social science literature to demonstrate the effectiveness and the cost effectiveness of prevention programming and it’s working,” said Howard Weissman, executive director of NCADA.

An annual survey by the National Institutes of Health shows, use of marijuana among eighth-graders is down, as well as a long-term decline in teen use of any illicit substance.

Nichole Dawsey, director of prevention services for NCADA, said the program reached 81,000 kids, in grades K-12, in 280 schools last year. The elementary classes stress basic resiliency skills.

“If they have those skills, things like anger management, decision making, problem solving, that when life does get really hard, they are way less likely to turn to substances like drugs or alcohol,” Dawsey said.

For more information on the NCADA and to learn where you can properly dispose of prescription drugs, visit


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