Md. college students must now complete heroin education program

The Start Talking Maryland Act requires schools to offer drug education that includes the dangers of heroin and other opioids starting as early as third grade

By Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times News

OAKLAND — Garrett College, Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University now require incoming full-time students to complete an education program in relation to heroin and opioids as part of a new Maryland law.

The Start Talking Maryland Act of 2017 became law July 1. It requires schools to offer drug education that includes the dangers of heroin and other opioids starting as early as third grade.

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2,089 people died from overdoses last year in Maryland.

Each school approaches the way students are trained a little differently. Garrett College and Allegany College require the training through Blackboard, a tool that allows faculty to add resources for students to access online. Allegany will have a training program on Blackboard for incoming spring 2018 semester students.

“The module (at Garrett College) will consist of viewing an online presentation, created in house with assistance by our local health department and other scholarly sources, and taking a short quiz afterward,” said Shelly Menear, naloxone program manager at Garrett College. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

“We had originally discussed implementing it at orientation but felt that providing students with the ability to view and comprehend the material at their own pace and with an option to go back for more information was a better choice,” Menear said.

FSU has several initiatives planned to comply with the law, including EverFi’s AlcoholEdu online alcohol prevention program and Rx Drugs, which provides online educational content on prescription drugs and opiate abuse. Incoming full-time, first-year students and traditional-aged transfer students with fewer than 30 credits will be required to complete Rx Drugs, said Liz Medcalf, the university’s director of news and media services.

AlcoholEdu has been utilized for several years, she said.

Currently, there isn’t state funding for the training programs, said Renee Conner, dean at ACM. FSU pays for the online educational platform for the program utilizing fines from students who violate the university’s judicial and substance abuse programs. The remainder of the cost is absorbed by FSU’s operating budget, according to Medcalf.

GC will also hold showings of “Chasing the Dragon” as well as offering other training in collaboration with the Garrett County Health Department. Students at FSU will be provided an email with specific opioid prevention and education information, as well as treatment resources.

ACM is also providing a live presentation during orientation for incoming full-time students and provides resources to incoming part-time students.

Failing to comply with the training program has varying consequences for college students. At GC, a hold may be put on the account of students who don’t complete it, according to the college’s heroin and opioid prevention and education policy.

ACM is in the process of developing internal protocols to inform students of training requirements, to track who has completed it, when to issue reminders for students who have not yet completed it and how to manage students, Conner said.

At Frostburg, students who fail to complete the program will be provided with several reminders prior to facing a potential violation of university policy and can become subject to the university’s disciplinary process, Medcalf said.

The law also requires school personnel in both elementary schools and colleges to administer naloxone if need be.

GC also has a mandatory Overdose Response Program for all eight campus security officers. At the beginning of each shift, officers will obtain an overdose response kit and maintain it throughout their shift. Once that shift is complete, officers will return the kits to a secure storage location. If an officer utilizes the kit, they will fill out the necessary documentation and submit it to Menear.

The kits contain a dose of naloxone, gloves, a barrier mask and an instruction sheet for naloxone administration, said Menear.

At ACM, all campus security officers have already had the training to administer naloxone. At FSU, all university nurses, nurse practitioners and law enforcement officers have been trained in the administration of naloxone through the Allegany County Health Department, said Medcalf.

Student life staff at Garrett has been encouraged to participate in the Overdose Response Program and all other staff can volunteer to do so, said Menear.

“Faculty and staff will be provided access to a similar training program as the students so they are educated on the same information,” said Menear.

Copyright 2017 Cumberland Times News

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