CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Middle school students in Charleston are learning about the dangers of drugs and what to do about peer pressure before they enter high school.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) joined Chad Napier with the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area during an assembly at John Adams Middle School Wednesday to talk to students about drug prevention.

“I think the students know a lot more than what we think, but I think they need to know that they can say ‘no’ and should say ‘no’ and why that’s important,” Capito said.

During Wednesday’s presentation, Napier showed students photos of drug dealers and drug addicts he’s dealt with over the years. Napier, who serves as the prevention and education coordinator for Appalachia HIDTA, said he loves his job, but hates seeing when kids are involved with drug abuse.

“What I didn’t like was this — is you go in the houses, you got dad selling drugs, mom using drugs and you have the babies in the house. I don’t like the young people that I see every day that are destroying their lives because of drug abuse,” Napier said.

West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose deaths, Napier said. The national average is 19.8 per 100,000 people. West Virginia is at 52 per 100,000 — almost three times the national average.

“We’re leading in a lot of things we don’t want to be leading in,” Napier told students. “We want to come to you, give you the information and hope you make good choices for your life.”

Capito said she wants kids to know the specifics when it comes to drug abuse and drug treatment.

“I think they need to know the dangers that are hidden in some drugs that sound maybe not so bad, but it could be laced with something deadly. I think they need to know where to get help. I think they need to know that we care,” she said.

The Appalachia HIDTA works to address threats to public health and safety particularly when it comes to heroin, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and synthetic drugs. West Virginia and all of Appalachia, they say, is the epicenter of the drug crisis.

To learn more about Appalachia HIDTA’s efforts, CLICK HERE.

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