FBI program brings opioid fight to Minnetonka schools

- The Minnetonka school district is teaming up with the FBI to fight opioid abuse through a pilot program, and the plan is to have it in other schools in the future.

While the Minnetonka district does not have a known opioid abuse issue, they say that doesn't mean it’s not happening; they know the abuse issue can happen anywhere at any time

The FBI’s documentary “Chasing the Dragon” will soon be part of the pilot program hitting the school district.

“They laid it out for me; their goal was to get ahead of all this, and I admire that, that they’re willing to get going before we have a lot of deaths of young people and so forth from it,” said Dennis Peterson, superintendent of the Minnetonka school district.

But this is more than a movie; it’s part of the curriculum. The FBI, police, a Hennepin County drug court judge, recovering opioid addicts and others will offer a personalized approach that aims at prevention. Minnetonka kids will hear firsthand what it’s like to have your life destroyed by opioids.

“It’s raw, but the film itself tracks the lives of other young people that have fallen into addiction, and really, those documentaries are their own words,” said Jeff Van Nest with the FBI.

“I think with such a sensitive topic, if you’re not direct, something can be missed, and they could make a poor choice. So our approach is ‘let’s share the facts with them so they know what’s happening,’” said Jeff Erickson, Minnetonka High School principal.

About 400 eighth graders are the first to be involved in the program. It seems young, but the FBI says, unfortunately, that’s exactly who needs to hear it.

“If you watch the documentary you’ll see many of the folks that admitted to using began using at 11 and 12 years old,” Van Nest said.

The program starts with eighth graders, but will move on to the tenth graders in a couple of weeks.

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