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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Drug education programs in schools used to involve just illegal drugs, but with today’s opioid crisis, that list must now include legally prescribed but highly addictive medications.

In 2015, Wake County Public Schools replaced D.A.R.E. with another program — but, in 2019, D.A.R.E. instructors are still invited into eight Wake Forest schools.

D.A.R.E. stands for “drug abuse resistance education.” Its focus is helping students avoid use of controlled drugs or contact with groups that deal in them.

One dangerous drug can be found in many of their own homes — opioid pain relievers, which, if misused, can be highly addictive and even deadly.

Officer Scott Graham, a D.A.R.E. instructor and member of the Wake Forest Police Department, said his message is aimed for students in different grade levels.

“It’s an epidemic,” said Graham. “It’s a huge problem. D.A.R.E. has a lesson plan that basically we follow to make sure we’re sensitive and age-appropriate.”

At Richland Creek Elementary School, Graham visits Ms. Wishmore’s fifth-grade class regularly. “I have a relationship through the D.A.R.E. program with these kids, and it’s really special,” he said. “I think it works.”

Graham doesn’t want kids to fear opioid drugs. Instead, he wants them to be equipped with basic life skills to make good decisions.

“Drugs can help us in so many ways, but they can be dangerous too,” said Graham.