City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst) this week saw two of his bills focussing on opioid education in the city’s schools pass the full council.
The first bill, Int. 618-A, requires the city to create and distribute age-appropriate educational materials about the effects of opioid abuse, which will be given to students across schools at the beginning of every school year.
The second measure, Res. 197, calls upon the state to require the Department of Education (DOE) to include opioid education in its public school curriculum.
“When I was a kid, we were taught about the dangers of the drugs that were wreaking havoc in our city such as crack cocaine,” Brannan said. “Now that we have another crisis on our hands, why aren’t we teaching kids about how dangerous these drugs are? I am very proud that my first bills are going to address the lack of opioid education for students in our city.”
Brannan said it is critical that youth are well-informed about the ongoing opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuses, most individuals with a substance abuse problem begin using before the age of 18, and the National Center for Health Studies has reported that opioids cause more overdoses in youth aged 15-19 than any other drug category.
“Kids are pretty smart. Unfortunately, right now some just don’t know how easy it is to get hooked or how misusing prescription drugs can send them very quickly down a very dark path,” Brannan said. “If we provide the right information, I have no doubt it will save some lives. I believe that educating from an early age is the best way to combat the disease of addiction—knowledge is power.”
Backing the measures was Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who said the earlier young people are educated about the science of addiction and the consequences of their actions, the better the chances in preventing them from making bad choices.
Education is a critical component of our fight against the opioid epidemic and I thank Council Member Brannan for taking the lead on this issue. We know that students make better decisions when they are informed, we’ve seen smoking rates plummet in recent years. Now it is time for schools to address addiction, starting with prescription drugs, which are so often a pathway to addiction,” said Gonzalez.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the measures they are slated to go into effect in September – the beginning of the next school year.