"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead
In Schuylkill County, one of those small group of committed citizens is a group of local high school students, participants in the annual Youth Summit. According to Kay Jones of Schuylkill VISION, each year these 100+ student leaders choose a topic at the Spring Summit. Then in six meetings from September through March they create a response to the issue. for the past two years they have taken on the opioid epidemic.
One part of their project is education. The community can learn so much about addiction and try to understand how it affects people at the Addiction Policy Forum which educates through some short, great videos (3-4 minutes) here. The videos explain tough topics like how addiction affects the brain and why people can't "just stop" once they are addicted but need specialized treatment. I recommend that everyone check out these videos. It's an easy way to learn about addiction and see things in a whole new way.
The students also reached out directly to the community by working with local pharmacies to place "Take Back Flyers" in prescription bags. These flyers educate those using medications on how to safely dispose of unused medications. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost 55% of people who abused prescription pain relievers received them from a "friend or relative" -- often taking them without asking -- so knowing why unused medications shouldn't be left in a medicine cabinet is a key step in controlling the spread of the opioid epidemic. This project was done with the help of Diane Rowlands, Preventative Services Coordinator for Schuylkill County. When asked what type of places they would like to work with she cast a wide net, "If they have people coming to their door and can get the flyer into somebody's hands." Organizations or businesses that would like to receive flyers can contact Kay Jones at 570-622-6097 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Youth Ambassadors are also reaching out directly to the youth of our communities both by going into the middle schools to talk about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and by building a website that will list all the drug-free activities happening throughout the county where students can have fun without worrying about the pressure to try drugs.
You can help them by sharing a Take Back Flyer, a video from the Addiction Policy Forum or even just the information about a drug-free event happening in Schuylkill County. Do your part to curb the opioid epidemic in Schuylkill County!