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Press Release

10,000 Students Participate in US Attorney's Opioid & Heroin Addiction Awareness Program

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE –  As the 2016-2017 school year nears its completion, today nearly 300 students in Winman Jr. High School in Warwick participated in the United States Attorney’s Office’s opioid and heroin addiction and overdose awareness program. Today’s presentation, the final in-school program of the current school year, marks the 28th presentation in more than two dozen schools in 13 communities across Rhode Island.


More than 10,000 junior and senior high school students in Barrington, Bristol, Central Falls, Cumberland, Johnston, Newport, North Providence, Portsmouth, Providence, South Kingstown, Warwick, Westerly and Woonsocket participated in the United States Attorney’s Office’s program, which includes discussions about the importance of making good decisions and the consequences of making poor decisions, and how they impact every student’s future; screening of the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon - an unscripted, real-life look at the devastation of opioid and heroin addiction; and the personal story of a parent, Deborah Parente, who lost her only child to opioid and heroin addiction.


Each presentation also included important information about in-school and community support for students if they have been or are being impacted because of a family member or friend’s use of opioids or heroin.


In addition to opioid and heroin awareness programs, the United States Attorney’s Office, working along-side community partners such as substance abuse prevention coalitions, student assistance counselors and law enforcement, visited numerous junior and senior high schools across the state to present programs to students, faculty, coaches, administrators and parents about the impact that marijuana, tobacco, and e-cigarettes may pose to young people.


“The devastation being left in the wake of the worsening epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction, and overdose deaths, is staggering to say the least,” said Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch. “According to statistics released on Tuesday by the Department of Justice, in 2015, 1,000 people died every week of a drug overdose; 33,000 people died from heroin, fentanyl and other opioid drugs. In 2016, the number of deaths increased to nearly 60,000 people. These are not faceless, nameless individuals. They are our family members, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. People impacted by this horrific epidemic live in every zip code, are of every ethnicity, and of every socioeconomic background. This epidemic does not discriminate.”


“If our outreach programs save one life, we have done our job. We hope we have made a significant difference in many young people’s lives,” added Mr. Dambruch. “I want to particularly thank former U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Deborah Parente for their significant contributions to the success of our opioid and heroin awareness outreach programs.”


Assistance and information about treatment options for opioid addiction is available from a licensed counselor 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by calling Prevent Overdose RI at 942-STOP (942-7867).




Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
on Twitter @USAO_RI

Updated June 7, 2017

Community Outreach
Press Release Number: 17-57