Council’s winter camping program raises awareness about the dangers of opioids

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Choosing not to use drugs (along with tobacco and alcohol) is a perfect example of ethical decision-making in how you care for your body and your mind, and it starts with getting educated.

Scouts who attended winter camp at the Andrew Jackson Council’s Hood Scout Reservation over the Thanksgiving holiday got the chance to learn from the experts themselves. As part of the Scout Out Opioids program, Scouts and their families learned about the dangers of opioids abuse and misuse from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

“Starting early with educating young children and adolescents about the dangers of opioids and the importance of staying away from their misuse is vital to saving lives,” says Mississippi attorney general Lynn Fitch. “I am grateful to our partners at the Boy Scouts of America and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics for helping us convey this message to not only these young Scouts, but also their families.”

Bureau of Narcotics director Steven Maxwell, staff members from the attorney general’s office and a recovering addict from Stand Up, Mississippi, all spoke to the Scouts and their families about the dangers of opioid addiction and abuse.

“It’s critically important to be well informed and educated about the drug culture, as a matter of success in life,” Maxwell says. “Being informed and educated provides an effective knowledge base for making sound decisions and exercising prudent judgement.”

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Prescription opioids are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain. Synthetic opioid pain relievers are the most powerful opioids used to treat the most severe pain.

Both have serious side effects and risks when used without the care of a doctor. And both can result in physical dependence — meaning you have symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped, increasing the urge to continue taking the drug.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of drug overdose deaths in the United States involved opioids.

“In Scouting, every week a Scout pledges to themselves that they will be physically fit and mentally awake, and to be clean – in mind and body,” says Andrew Jackson Council COO and assistant Scout Executive Larry Cagle. “For these Scouts to hear of the dangers that abusing opioids can cause to them, their families and their neighbors is extremely important.

“We want our Scouts to be upstanders, not bystanders, and we hope that our Scouts will be able to take what they learned and share it in the communities that they live in and serve.”

Scouts at Winter Camp at Hood Scout Reservation in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, received a special Scout Out Opioids patch.

What can you do to Be Prepared?

Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them, including friends and family members who might find them in medicine cabinets or the trash.

Scouts at Hood Scout Reservation went home with a packet from DisposeRX, a company dedicated to decreasing the risks of overdoses, suicides and accidental poisonings by helping people dispose of leftover medications properly. The packets include a substance that, when mixed with water and unused opioids, deactivates the drugs.

According to the CDC, signs of an opioid overdose may include small, constricted pupils; falling asleep or loss of consciousness; slow, shallow breathing; choking or gurgling sounds; limp body; and pale, blue, or cold skin. If you aren’t sure if someone has overdosed, seek medical care immediately to be safe, and do not leave the person alone.

Scouts and their families also received family safety kits from the National Child ID program, including a fingerprinting kit, tools to collect a DNA sample, and a place for physical identification information and a recent photo. The kits are designed to be provided to law enforcement should a child go missing.

“It is not only important for our Scouts to know how to identify the danger of opioids,” says Cagle, “but how to handle the danger if they encounter it.”

Packets like this one from DisposeRX allow consumers to properly dispose of prescription drugs.

About Aaron Derr 390 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.