Central Florida schools respond to opioid crisis

Districts discuss policies for drug addiction


ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 has launched an initiative to investigate and explore the opioid epidemic and its impact on Central Florida. 

Through the investigation, News 6 uncovered a recovery school in Texas for students who are trying to overcome addiction.

Archway Academy Executive Director Sasha McLean said the Houston school is for students who have already been to rehab and need a safe place to learn. 

"When we started asking kids, 'Where do you have the easiest access to drugs?' They would say school. 'Where are most of your dealers?' They would tell us school," McLean said. "So we decided in 2004 that maybe what Houston needed was a school that was devoted specifically to students with drug and alcohol issues." 

The program at Archway Academy was once one of a handful nationwide. Now, it's being used as a model copied across the country. 

There is one such recovery school in Florida. River Oak Center is based out of Jacksonville and opened last fall.

In light of the drug crisis, News 6 asked Central Florida school district officials if they have any programs or policies on how to deal with opioid addiction.

Orange County Public Schools has school counselors and Student and Family Empowerment coordinators on middle and high school campuses. They are trained to respond to any students who may be struggling with drug addiction of any kind, opioid included.

OCPS also partners with outside mental health agencies through a grant. The district uses the outlets to help connect students who are identified as struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. 

Volusia County Public Schools offers educational services for students struggling with addiction at the Stewart Marchman-Act Residential Adolescent Program. The district does not assign students to the program but offers information to parents when they know there is an issue. The same program is also used by Flagler County Public Schools. 

Brevard County Public Schools said when it knows a student has a substance abuse problem, the certified school counselor at the school assists the parent in finding community resources and services. Osceola County Public Schools has a similar policy. 


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