Canandaigua students warn of opioid dangers in PSA

Some film students at the Canandaigua Academy hope to grab the attention of students and parents in a bold way (Canandaigua Academy PSA photo)

Canandaigua, N.Y. (WHAM) - Some film students at the Canandaigua Academy hope to grab the attention of students and parents in a bold way.

The class put together public service announcements to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction.

"We were initially inspired by an assembly held here at the school in which a former student talked about how a sports injury led to her addiction to heroin and eventually her downfall," senior Colton Cayward said.

According to the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Ontario County, already this year, there have been seven deaths from heroin overdoses.

In 2015, there were a total of eight deaths.

The PSAs show images of graduation caps being tossed in the air while burning and flames.

One also shows a teenager reaching for the medicine cabinet for prescription drugs.

Out of more than 2,000 youth and youth adults, 32 percent say they have obtained prescription drugs not prescribed to them from the home of a friend of family.

Petrea Rae with the Partnership for Ontario County says that's the reason she wants to start having a conversation of prevention at an early age.

"When we did our surveys one of the surprising statistics we saw was that students in 7th and 8th grade were using pain killers not prescribed to them at 11 years old," Petrea said.

The consequences can be far reaching.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero says heroin addiction drives the number of calls deputies respond to.

"The 911 center is receiving a lot of calls from people reporting the need for emergency assistance because someone close to them has overdose. We have dispatchers giving CPR instructions over the phone to save lives," Sheriff Povero said.

The sheriff also said the jail population is often driven by the amount of people with a drug abuse problem.

"Of those admitted, 70 percent admitted some sort of substance abuse or addiction and of that number 30% on booking admitted some sort of heroin addiction," said Povero.

It's the hope that a message for students by students will help make an impact.

"People really don't know how different schools are and the lives of teenagers these days, even in the last 20 years, kids are confronted with all kinds of stresses they didn't have before and teachers are as well," Canandaigua Academy Film and English teacher Deborah Sutherland said.

"I want people to understand it's not a joke. It's not a matter to be dealt with, it should stay out of people's lives," senior Haydn Carr said.

"I think they shouldn't get involved that's the message we really wanted to hit home," senior Tyler Iocco said.

Teaching a valuable lesson, one that extends beyond the classroom.

The public service announcements are now airing on 13WHAM, FOX Rochester and CW Rochester.

You can find out more about the Partnership for Ontario County and programs they offer here.

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