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House bill would require schools to screen for drug use

The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that would require schools to screen students for drug abuse and work to curb opioid use by limiting doctors’ initial prescriptions to seven days.

The Senate is expected to approve the bill Thursday, and Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign it.

The measure is the Legislature’s latest response to an opioid crisis that claims about 100 Massachusetts lives per month.

It is not as far-reaching as a proposal Baker made last fall, which called for a three-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions. But the governor has praised the bill nonetheless.

Parents and students would have the ability to opt out of the drug abuse screenings, which would come in the form of confidential interviews with children in two still-to-be-determined grade levels.

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The legislation also requires hospitals to perform a substance abuse evaluation, within 24 hours, on anyone who arrives at a hospital with signs of an overdose.


David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe