Officials with The Rite Aid Foundation are bringing the Prescription Drug Safety program, a digital course about prescription drug abuse prevention, to Ohio-area high schools.

Developed by EVERFI and known as the Prescription Drug Safety program, the program will be made available to high schools in Summit and Stark counties, at no cost. Through interactive scenarios and self-guided activities, students learn the facts about drugs, how to properly use and dispose of them, and how to step in when faced with a situation involving misuse. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Education Standards and state academic standards.

Representatives of The Rite Aid Foundation, Congressman Tim Ryan and Akron Public Schools announced the launch of the new program during a press conference and demonstration at Firestone Community Learning Center.

"The abuse of prescription drugs and opioids is a serious national crisis that threatens the health, safety and wellbeing of our young people," Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives said in a press release announcing the program. "One of Rite Aid's core values is to be a caring neighbor, involved in meaningful ways in the communities we serve, especially if it involves improving the health and wellbeing of children. We are proud to introduce this critical prevention education program and provide Akron-area students with the skills and knowledge to prevent the dangerous cycle of abuse before it occurs."

Ohio is arguably one of the states hardest hit by prescription drug abuse and the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio is among the top five states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths. In 2017, there were 5,111 opioid-related overdose deaths in Ohio-more than double the national average. To help combat the opiate crisis, Ohio is investing more than $1 billion a year to help battle drug abuse and addiction at the state and local levels.

In addition to the activation in Akron-area high schools, as part of its commitment to creating safe and healthy environments for children and teens, The Rite Aid Foundation, through its KidCents program, will also fund the introduction of the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in Lucas County, Ohio as well as several communities in Washington, California, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In all, The Rite Aid Foundation made a three-year, $1.7 million commitment to the Prescription Drug Safetyprogram, which is expected to reach more than 400 high schools.