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As opioid epidemic grows in Massachusetts, innovative Cambridge College program focuses on preparing teachers to help find school-based solutions.
The statistics are sobering. According to the latest numbers from Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2014 rose to 1,173 – the highest they have been since 2000.
And the crisis does not show any signs of abating. Indeed, if it follows trends predicted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the numbers will only continue to grow. Opioids, which include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone, are known to be highly addictive and very difficult to quit.
Cambridge College School of Education is poised to respond and play a key role in helping prevent opioid addiction by offering initial and professional licensure programs to train teachers in providing skills-based health education in PreK-Grade 12 school systems.
“I think it is really important to state that people don’t start off as heroin addicts,” says Mary Connolly, C.A.G.S, Chair of Cambridge College School of Education’s Health and Family & Consumer Education Program. “The road to addiction is a very gradual progression that often starts very early – for most, it starts when they are young, by experimenting with alcohol or tobacco. It’s critical that our prevention starts in schools so that it will be most effective. That’s why it is so important to make sure health education teachers are able to get the skills-based education they need to help prevent this epidemic at the PreK-12 levels.”
“The solution to the opioid problem must be comprehensive,” says Connolly. “ This is where Cambridge College School of Education is offering is really unique in terms of training health education teachers and ensuring they have the knowledge and the tools to teach school-age students how to reduce risky behavior, improve personal health, and increase academic performance learning skills — rather than just hearing information about drugs. Also, the teachers we train become leaders in the fight against substance abuse in their own school systems.”
As more and more states such as Massachusetts recognize opioid addiction, officials are acknowledging that it is a serious health issue – one that has to be addressed in many different levels. “There are community intervention and treatment programs out there,” says Connolly. “But what Cambridge College School of Education is offering fills a very vital need in terms of teaching health education teachers the skills they need to talk to students about the dangers of addiction.”
This innovative program is just one of the programs offered by Cambridge College School of Education. The school has a proven track record of success with over more than 20,000 alumni working in the field of education in the areas of early childhood and elementary education, math, general science, English as Second Language, moderate disabilities, applied behavior analysis, interdisciplinary studies, school nurse education, and educational leadership.
Learn more about the exciting opportunities in education by attending the Cambridge College School of Education’s upcoming Open House on May 19th at 6pm in Cambridge.