Decatur Township students participate in fight against opioid epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It's a growing problem statewide and now some groups are focusing on our youth. Decatur Township Drug Free Coalition is noticing students are abusing prescription drugs. In a recent survey, it found 29 percent of Decatur Central High School students have a friend who has abused prescription drugs in the past 30 days.

Some students at Decatur Central High School made a PSA for Decatur Township Drug Free Coalition. It was part of a competition and one group of students was chosen as the winner. The commercial will run on TV until the end of the year. Victoria Heighton, a junior, is in the video and said a friend of hers struggled with drug abuse.

"I have seen the effects of it throughout the school," said Heighton.

Decatur Township Drug Free Coalition is an organization whose mission to prevent and reduce drug abuse among youth. Chase Lyday, the executive director, said their strategy is to curb the opioid crisis that is occurring in Decatur Township. He's finding people struggling with abuse often switch to heroin later down the road after abusing prescription drugs. They want to help these students before they get to that point.

"We want to change the mindset for them so they don’t use their prescription drugs that would later be the gateway to heroin or another serious opiate," he said.

Lyday is also a school resource officer in Decatur Township. He said it's common statewide for a school resource officer to deal with kids who are in possession of marijuana or controlled substances or narcotics.

In another survey, the Decatur Township Drug Free Coalition found more than 80 percent of their community members have no idea about drug prevention activity or the drug problem. Lyday hopes this video will make students aware of the sacrifices in life they're making by abusing prescription drugs.

Lyday said the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation gave the Decatur Township Drug Free Coalition a drug prevention grant worth $284,000. The money will go towards a social and emotional learning curriculum for all Decatur Township schools and classes will start around October.