Pleasant Hills resource officer works to combat drug addiction
Pleasant Hills police Officer Ron Porupsky has seen lives destroyed by drug addiction.
People become a shell of who they once were. Some don’t survive.
Porupsky, school resource officer at Pleasant Hills Middle School, is always looking for ways help students make better life decisions.
With the opioid epidemic facing the U.S. on the rise, Porupsky has introduced new training at the school to help combat the crisis through education.
“I want to see more people be able to succeed and not have their dreams and sometimes their lives affected and sometimes totally stopped by the opioid epidemic,” he said.
For the second straight year, Porupsky hosted a program this school year for parents and community members where he brought in doctors and police officers to speak about the opioid epidemic.
In March, the school’s roughly 220 sixth-graders completed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program taught by Porupsky. While the message of D.A.R.E. used to simply be “Don’t do drugs,” Porupsky says the curriculum is much more than that these days.
He talks with students about how the decisions they make regarding everything from drugs to social media will affect their entire lives.
This year, the program is expanding to seventh grade. On April 18, all seventh-graders at Pleasant Hills Middle School received the first of two lessons on over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
The program teaches students how to read pill bottles and the importance of only taking what is prescribed.
Misuse of prescription drugs often leads to addiction, Porupsky said.
“The majority of people, they don’t start with heroin. They start with prescription pills,” he said.
While many people think only certain types of people get addicted, Porupsky said, addiction can happen to anyone.
The two-part class will be completed before the end of the school year. Next year, Porupsky plans to introduce an online component for eighth-graders.
On May 20, Rich Levitt, who lost his son Jonathan to an overdose, will speak to students to share the real life story of addiction.
“We want them to make connections,” Vice Principal Adam Zunic said. “The last thing I want to do is, heaven forbid, read about one of my former students or current students having overdosed or even just grappling with the disease of addiction.”
Education is the way to fight it, both Zunic and Porupsky said.
By the time someone is arrested for drugs, it could be too late, Zunic said.
“They could be too far down the road,” he said. “I mean, you hope they can get help but that process is very arduous. If we can help them now and educate them, give them the tools to be aware, to hopefully make good decisions, then what else can we do?”