Dose of Reality: How a Saratoga County high school is battling the opioid crisis


CLIFTON PARK, NY (WRGB) This Wednesday, CBS 6 is launching an initiative called 'Dose of Reality'.

We're taking an in-depth look at the state of heroin addiction in our community and making a commitment to find solutions to the opioid epidemic.

CBS 6’s Anne McCloy learned about how a Saratoga County high school is working to prevent heroin addiction among its' students.

At Shenendehowa High School drug searches are a regular occurrence.

“At least twice a month we come in with our K-9s and search the lockers,” said Saratoga County Deputy Sheriff Ken Cooper, who serves as School Resource and Emergency Liaison Officer.

It’s one way the district is aiming to end the opioid crisis.

“Kids start out with marijuana use, they don’t think that the next thing is heroin or another drug, but it is,” Cooper said.

K-9 teams look for any illegal items in student lockers. When a dog scratches at a locker or barks, it means they've found something. For this demonstration, Saratoga County deputies planted real paraphernalia found on a student.

“This is actually an item we did confiscate this year in the building its a vaporizer, but unfortunately it was being used with marijuana based oils,” said Shenendehowa HS Assistant Principal Lucas Labarre.

The searches have been widely accepted.

“I think overall students, parents are OK with us coming in and searching. They don’t want drugs on campus,” Cooper said.

Soon, School Resource Officers will be stationed at the school, encouraging kids to say something if they see a friend struggling with drug abuse.

“We want them to give us the good information, so we can actually help,” Cooper said.

But the plan of attack goes farther.

Rebecca Carman is Director of Policy and Community Development at Shenendehowa Central School District.

“How are they disguising it, what does it look like?” Carman said.

Teachers, school nurses and staff are trained on signs of drug abuse, they advertise a help hotline and students are learning about opioid addiction in health class.

Pam Woloszyn is a Health Educator at Shenendehowa High School East.

“The chemistry behind it, what’s behind addiction and what it’s doing in the brain is critical,” Woloszyn said.

Health teachers talk to students about choices at the doctor's office,

“We talk about prescription drugs, we talk about the lead-in to heroin,” Woloszyn said.

And the teachers address choices among peers.

“You go to a party and there are drugs there. What are you going to do?” Woloszyn said.

Woloszyn sends her students a clear message of support.

“It’s saying this is what happening, what can we do to help you and fix it?” Woloszyn said.

Tuesday night on CBS 6 News at 5pm, we'll take a look at how the University at Albany is training students to be first responders when it comes to the opioid crisis. How they're saving lives, and helping those suffering with addiction to get into long-term recovery.

‘Dose of Reality’ our campaign focused on the opioid epidemic, officially begins with a one-hour special airing Wednesday night at 7pm on the CW 15, Facebook Live and

Your Voice, Your Future: Dose of Reality will focus on the struggle, the stigma and solutions surrounding the crisis.

You'll also be seeing weekly reports on CBS 6 News focused on solving this public health emergency.

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