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Weymouth officials hope to discourage pre-teens from abusing opioid drugs by restoring the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E. curriculum under a $13,240 grant received through state Attorney General Maura Healey’s Youth Opioid Prevention program.

Weymouth officials hope to discourage pre-teens from abusing opioid drugs by restoring the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E. curriculum under a $13,240 grant received through state Attorney General Maura Healey’s Youth Opioid Prevention program.

Mayor Robert Hedlund said D.A.R.E.’s addition to the police department would provide instruction to 900 sixth and seven grade students.

“It will dovetail with the work being done by Sgt. James St. Croix in the schools as director of the police community outreach division and it will fall under his purview,” Hedlund said. “In a limited sense, D.A.R.E. is back.”

D.A.R.E. was eliminated 11 years ago in Weymouth under a series of state budget reductions.

Approximately 6,000 primary school students graduated from D.A.R.E. over a nine-year-period before state funding eliminated a $13,000 grant for the program that was administered by Officer James Bowen, who retired in May 2010.

The elimination of D.A.R.E. in Weymouth followed a nationwide trend by some communities that dropped the program because of questions about its effectiveness with persuading children to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

“It continued in the other communities that I represented at the time,” said Hedlund, a former state senator from 1994-2016.

Hedlund said he attended a D.A.R.E. presentation in Hingham while serving in the senate and it seemed impressive.

“When it was brought to my attention that we were seeking this grant, I had a meeting with police and our substance abuse coordinator Paul Williams,” he said. “They tell me that this is a different approach than the old D.A.R.E. curriculum.”

Williams said the grant would strengthen the great drug abuse prevention work being done.

“It also highlights the exceptional, ongoing collaboration between town departments, which Weymouth should be incredibly proud of,” he said in a written statement. “True prevention work can only occur through this townwide, all in this together cooperation.”

The grant will provide 80-hour training sessions to three police officers for them to teach the drug abuse curriculum to children.

Officers receiving the training will be instructed with how to teach children about the dangers of substance abuse through a hands-on learning approach instead of a lecture based approach that was used in the previous D.A.R.E. program.

The lessons will include stories told by teens to demonstrate how to say no to drugs through role play that are based on D.A.R.E.’s principles: resist, explain, avoid and leave.

“Remaining grant funds will provide the curriculum materials to the more than 900 sixth and seventh graders who will participate in the prevention program next year,” stated a summary provided by Hedlund. “The Weymouth Police Department expects to continue the initiative beyond the two-year grant period.”

Police Chief Richard Grimes said targeting young people with science-based substance abuse prevention programming is critical to reversing the opioid scourge in the long term.

“I am thankful we can partner with Attorney General Maura Healy and the Weymouth Public Schools on this important work,” Grimes said in a written statement. “We need to reach young people early and with repeated interventions if we want to stop addition before it starts.”

The police department was among 41 organizations in the state to receive a youth opioid prevention grant for school based programming from Healy’s office.

Funding for the grant allotments was provided through separate out of court settlements by Healy with CVS Pharamcy Inc., and Walgreens Company.

Walgreens agreed to pay $200,000 to the attorney general’s youth opioid prevention grant program in January to settle allegations over improper dispensing of controlled substances.

As part of the settlement, Walgreens agreed to update its written policies and procedures under the state controlled substance management program and to follow a general rule about not dispending prescriptions in exchange for out-of-pocket payments.

CVS Pharmacy agreed to pay $500,000 to the youth opioid prevention grant program in November 2016 to settle allegations that certain CVS pharmacies in Massachusetts failed to monitor drug use patterns, or use sound professional judgment when dispensing controlled substances, particularly opioids.

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Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.