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Baldwin-Whitehall to introduce addiction awareness programs

| Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, 6:51 p.m.

President Obama has declared a national prescription opioid and heroin epidemic awareness campaign, while Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic in the state is his administration's top priority.

In response to national and state campaigns to raise awareness of addiction to prescription opioids and heroin, the Baldwin-Whitehall School District will introduce two new addiction awareness programs this month.

On Wednesday, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Baldwin High School students will see a live performance of “Off-Script,” an hour-long production by Saltworks Theatre Company. Stories of three students from different backgrounds depict the allure and abuse of drugs and the aftermath of addiction.

On Oct. 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the district will screen “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” a documentary film that follows the stories of real-life opioid addicts, including the parents of children who have become addicted.

The community is invited to watch the screening in the Regis V. Shalley Performing Arts Center at Baldwin High School.

Superintendent Randal Lutz said the district had a D.A.R.E. program long before he arrived there 21 years ago. The district also partners with Whitehall police and the borough to provide a school resource officer.

“As kids get older, some of those lessons are forgotten,” Lutz said. “We are just looking to create awareness.”

Lutz said the district is being proactive. He said nurses and administrators are trained to use the overdose antidote naloxone.

“We are not responding to the epidemic, but if we can change one person's life then it's worth it.”

He said the programs are no different than having an EpiPen or an automated external defibrillator available in the district buildings.

“If we know there's tools out there that could save someone's life, why wouldn't we have it?” Lutz said.

Baldwin police Chief Michael Scott said that from June 2014 to October 2016, borough police have responded to 65 overdose incidents that resulted in a person being taken to a hospital.

Whitehall police Chief Donald Dolfi said officers have had to administer naloxone four times this year. In September, officers reported two fatal overdoses.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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