Students in our region have had several of these types of talks on the opioid epidemic. However, they say that they are in fact making a difference.
Shannon Easter, a senior from Bedford High School, explained, “I think it is helping us a lot by by telling us what the effects are of the drugs and also what to do if one of our friends or somebody we know has this problem and just what steps to take.”
The students were chosen as leaders to represent their schools at the conference. Now, their job is to take the skills they’ve gained back to their classmates.
Bedford High School Freshman Nicholas Regos explained, “When we go back to our schools we always try to talk to other students about what we learned here and I can really see it change the lives of other students in the high school.”
The conference was sponsored in part by Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD. The keynote speaker, Jason Snyder, is a Cambria County native who struggled with addiction but now works in Harrisburg to fight the epidemic. He works as a special assistant to the secretary of the Department of Human Services.
Snyder said, “Working with young people and helping them to understand how to make good decisions so, things like today, groups like SADD, are critically important.”
Snyder spoke on the importance of getting rid of the stigma around those suffering from addiction. His story showed the students that anyone from any background could suffer from this disease.
Ariel Reed, a sophomore at Northern Bedford High School, saw her prospective changed. She explained, “First, whenever I would hear the words ‘drug user’, you know, I would think of the stereotypical drug user. Back alley, not looking very nice. But with him saying he was a straight A student and ended up doing drugs, that really changed my whole prospective on it.”
Snyder says lawmakers in Harrisburg are continuing to work on getting treatment to those in need and regulating prescription drugs.