Panther Time alchohol, tobacco and other drugs lessons sparked by drug use

Rachel Carson Middle School Classroom is studying mental health.

Rachel Carson Middle School Classroom is studying mental health.

RCMS staff and students are learning about Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs, known as ATOD, to become more aware of the crisis and how to prevent it.

The lessons are part of the curriculum in health and study hall lessons in all of FCPS. These lessons are implemented to try to prevent kids from using dangerous drugs such as opioids and vapes.

“Education of ATOD is key,” said Mr. Christopher Powell, assistant principal at RCMS.

“The lessons were put in as a response to the widely spread opioid crisis,” said Mr. Powell.

The opioid crisis is when painkillers are used without prescription or need. These drugs are most likely fatal if overdosed.

“Opioids are not a young person’s drug,” stated Ella DeFede, a 14-year-old girl and a former RCMS student now attending Oakton.

While drugs like vapes and marijuana are more popular in Ella’s age group, the opioid crisis is still a serious threat to older students.

“Each generation has its addictions,” said Ms. Karla Chustz, RCMS school counselor.

According to the FCPS youth survey on drug use, marijuana is by far the most inhaled or eaten substance. Around 19% inhale or use Marijuana, while only a little over 3% are addicted to Opiods.

As Mariella said, “It’s vapes now but it was something else 50 years ago and it will be something different 50 years from now.”

It is debated on how effective the lessons are in different situations.

As a seventh-grade RCMS student says, “It’s annoying that its done twice,” and that they are “not effective.”

“It is very important for young people to understand the effects of ATOD,” says Ms. Karla Chustz.

Ms. Chustz believes that young people should understand the cause and effects of their actions.

However, an RCMS student believes, “It might stop people if they want to try them, but won’t help already addicted people who might not listen.”

Students also believe that these lessons are not making as great of an effect on controlling the drug levels in schools because they aren’t properly enforced.

“You could stand in a [high school] hallway and grab someone at random and 100% chance they have encountered drugs,” says Mariella

The lessons educate students and staff about the risks of drug use, and many believe it will leave a lasting impact on this generation.

As Ms. Chustz states, “You only have one body — you need to take care of it.