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New program aims to help students kick drug use early

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 7:51 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - School officials are taking a new approach to curbing drug use in Wood County Schools.

Cathy Grewe, the Coordinator of Assessment & Student Services, said the district has opened the Summit Support Center inside of Summit Success Academy (the district’s alternative school) to host the Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Education Program. It focuses on drug education and counseling.

Grewe said it would likely be used in lieu of an out-of-school suspension for first time student drug offenders.

And the counseling aspect of the program, Grewe said, makes it stand out from previous drug prevention/intervention programs.

“Education isn’t enough. Most of these students know already that drugs or vaping is dangerous,” said Grewe. “There are a lot of reasons, but often, it’s because students are troubled and they’re just looking for something to make them feel better. So, we are trying to work with these students to help them realize there are other ways to cope in life outside of using drugs or vaping.”

Officials said counseling could be done in a one-on-one setting or in a small group.

A retired school counselor and a professional from Westbrook Health Services are being paid to work with students.

School officials said the program is being paid for in part by grant money.

Grewe stressed the program is meant for younger, first-time offenders.

Repeat student drug offenders will still likely face out-of-school suspensions as punishments, but Grewe said there are plans for another program to help students overcome addiction through counseling.

School officials said they have seen an increase in drug use since students returned to in-person learning. Grewe said the pandemic may have led more students to try drugs, possibly from additional stress or possibly from being left home alone more frequently.

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