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Orange County Schools trains staff to help students with addiction

Posted August 23

— Ahead of the new school year, Orange County school leaders are making sure their staff is aware of the growing problem with substance abuse.

About 75 staff members took part in a seminar on Wednesday at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Hillsborough.

Counselors, social workers and nurses were trained on different symptoms and behaviors students may exhibit when under the influence of a variety of substances.

According to Avis Barnes, lead social worker for Orange County Schools, recognizing the signs early on could be the difference between life and death.

"When we're dealing with students, we typically see them regularly and what normal looks like for them," she said. "So, when we see things that are kind of out of the ordinary, we are cautious about that."

Gayane Chambless, with the Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth, said alcohol is still the biggest substance abused among young people, but that staff are also being trained to look for signs of opioid use.

"When we have so many of our children in the school systems, very often, the teachers and the educational professionals are around these young people just as much, if not more, than the parents," said Luke Marcum, with the Elizabeth City Police Department.

Currently, officials with Orange County Schools say that substance abuse is not a problem in schools, but they want to be prepared should the issue arise.


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