There weren't many co-eds on campus at Harford Community College Thursday, but starting in the fall, every incoming, full time student will be required to learn about heroin and opioid addiction.
"This is a need in this community, is certainly a need in the state of Maryland and so we're stepping up as quickly as we can to make sure we're responding appropriately," said HCC President, Dr. Dianna Phillips.
A policy was put in place this week creating the new drug program. Something that's now mandatory by law for every public college and university.
From 2015 to 2016 opioid related deaths across the state shot up 70%. That growing epidemic is the reason the General Assembly took action to make sure students are educated about the dangers and prevention.
"We're teaching the public that drug addiction is a disease and so we're approaching it from that perspective,” Phillips said. “It is another component of the kind of education that we provide."
Officials are crafting the curriculum, and will offer the training through in-person and online formats, likely as part of orientation.
HCC is a commuter campus and nearly 83% of students are part time. While those co-eds won't have to go through the addiction program, educators will make sure the same information is available.
"Knowledge is powerful and so if you really understand the ramifications then you can make informed decisions, you can't back into a decision accidentally,” said Phillips. “I truly believe it will have significant impact."
Harford Community College was one of the first schools to put their opioid addiction education policy in place.
The law also calls for a drug addiction and prevention program for K-12 public schools, as well as requiring health officials at every public school be trained to administer naloxone in case of an opioid overdose.