Potential student overdose at Wakefield High School spurs renewed focus on substance abuse education

Efforts to educate students and parents on the dangers of overdoses continue as police investigate a potential overdose at an Arlington high school.

On Thursday, Arlington County police said first responders were sent to Wakefield High School on S. Dinwiddie Street for a report of a possible overdose

A male student was located and taken to a local hospital in a "non-life threatening" condition. 

Jenny Sexton, a substance abuse counselor for Arlington Public Schools, said the district does not experience a substantial amount of overdoses in the adolescent population. 

Sexton also said the district increased intervention efforts when the opioid crisis gained momentum nationally.


Apparent student overdose reported at Wakefield High School

It's the first week of school in Arlington County, and an apparent overdose has already been reported at a high school that's had its share of problems recently. 

The curriculum for fourth graders includes lessons on peer pressure and drug refusal. Lessons for fifth-grade students include information on prescription pills.

"In the high schools, we do lessons from 9th through 12th grade, which is a change this year. Historically, it’s only been for 9th and 10th grade because that’s the only grades that were required to do PE but given what we have seen with the increase in opioids across the United States, we decided to go ahead and expand those interventions through the 12th grade," Sexton said. "As we review the data, we also recognize

12th graders are preparing for college. We also want to provide this education and make sure we’re sharing consistent messages throughout."

Sexton said education also needs to include parents speaking with their children.

"Don’t be afraid to have these conversations with your kids. It’s important," she said. "We know it’s happening. We know it’s happening throughout the United States. Instead of being afraid to have that conversation, have that conversation. Keep an ongoing dialogue."

Zulma Arias, a mother of three children enrolled in Arlington Public Schools, said she communicates regularly with her kids.


Wakefield High School community rallies after teen student dies of apparent overdose

The Wakefield High School community rallied Friday after authorities announced an investigation is underway into the death of a teenage student, who apparently overdosed earlier in the week at the school.

"First thing, they have to talk with the parents. That’s the first. What I tell my kid is, they don’t have any ‘good’ friends at the school. No, they are friends…yeah. But best friend? Parent. Must be. They have to talk with us," Arias said. "We have to know what they are watching, what they are hearing, you know? What kind of music? Sometimes the music has messages that, as parents, we don’t want. We have to be involved with everything the kids are doing."

A spokesperson for Arlington Public Schools shared the following statement with FOX 5 regarding the medical incident at Wakefield High School:

"APS cannot share information about this or any other medical incident involving individual students due to privacy concerns. The mental health and wellbeing of our students continues to be a priority. Our schools provide mental health resources and ongoing substance abuse education and prevention measures. This includes training on the use of Naloxone for staff and allowing secondary students to carry Naloxone. This issue requires the help of our families and community, working in partnership with our schools."