Add Information to School’s Website on Opioids (Middle School and High School)

Schools should be a safe place for students to learn and grow. Parents and educators can team up to protect students from opioid addiction. Schools can add a section to their websites with information on opioids. The information is not intended to frighten parents or their children, but to make them aware and well informed on the issue. Schools can get as specific as having addiction recovery resources listed, posting a picture of their student resource officer(s), information or instructions on confidential reporting, reminders to pick up medications at the end of the school year, and information on sports injuries and opioids, or be as generic as listing links to resources and writing a summary of the school’s policy on substance abuse.
The Fargo Public School System in Fargo, North Dakota addresses the opioid epidemic on one of their student resource officer pages. They address the issue head on by explaining that opioids can be legal (prescription) or illegal (heroin), expressing how highly addictive the drugs are and giving links for the state of North Dakota’s prevention website and the Center for Disease Control’s website on fentanyl. Fargo Public Schools goes on to say that they will “continue preventive measures” and lets students and staff know who to contact at school when reporting substance abuse.
How can I do that?Contact your local schools or school board to find out if they would be willing to post information to their website(s). Many schools are responsible for their own content, but would need time to consider and vote on the topic before changing their website.

Use Online Continuing Education Courses for Prescribing Opioids

Health professionals can change the way they treat pain and reduce the chance that patients will become addicted to prescription medications. This can prove quite challenging for providers who must attempt to minimize misuse without impeding a patient’s access to medical care. Online training courses can help! Universities, medical associations, and other organizations are making it easier for medical practitioners to expand their knowledge about the opioid crisis, pain management, prescribing methods, and the science of addiction. Some online resources are free while others may have a cost associated. Continuing education credits (CMEs) can be offered through some of these courses.
How can I do that?Contact or do a web search of universities or medical associations to see what resources may be available regarding continuing education courses, or check out some of these organizations to help you get started.
Center for Disease ControlTennessee Medical Association

Provide an Excess Pill Dropoff Program

Drug take-back boxes are a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of excess unused prescription and over-the-counter medications. Proper disposal is crucial in preventing medications from falling into the wrong hands. Do not flush or pour medications down the drain, this can lead to waterway contamination. Take-back boxes that can accept controlled substances (which have the highest potential for abuse) are the most useful and popular.
How can I do that?1. Register the location with the DEA. You can contact your local DEA Diversion Office with any questions.2. Purchase your take-back box. Here are just a few vendors: CVS Grants, Save a Star, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators3. Find a service that will properly destroy the prescription drugs you have collected. Contact your local DEA for help in finding this service.4. Make certain that you are in compliance with Federal, State, tribal and local laws.

Advertise a Drug Takeback Day

Most people do not remember to dispose of their unused medications, which creates an opportunity for substance misuse. Often, patients are not told how to dispose of medication when they no longer need them, so many prescription medications end up being flushed down the toilet or thrown away in the trash. These disposal methods pollute the environment. Because of these two things, important to create awareness about the dangers of keeping unused prescriptions and how to properly dispose of them on a specific day in a convenient location nearby.
When creating a marketing plan for your event, consider the common marketing rule that a person needs to see an advertisement at least seven times before they will remember it. Use various forms of media for your ad, such as pamphlets, posters, billboards and social media posts. Try to place your ads in high traffic areas with strong visibility to reach as many people as possible. Target your advertising, when you can, by placing ads in places like doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
Many families and individuals want to prevent substance misuse and dispose of unused medication taking up space, making a Drug Takeback Day a valuable and potentially successful event. According to the Tennessean, the Nashville Drug Takeback day in April 2017 collected 212 pounds of pills and over 150 people brought in their old medications to Nashville pharmacies.

How can I do that?
There are several things you can do to get the word out about your Drug Takeback Day. Here are just a few options. You can do one, or you can do them all! It really is up to you and your community to decide which of these will encourage the most participation.
Option #1. Mention the benefits of participating in your advertisement.
Option #2. Present the successful data (number or participants or amount of drugs collected) of previous events.
Option #3. Include logos/statements from the organizations that will be collecting the unused prescriptions.
Option #4. Advertise any keynote speakers who will be at the event or any organizations that will have booths.
Option #5. Promote fun by including some family-friendly activities at your event.

Host an Event during National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week is an event organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) scheduled to occur May 13-19. The goal of this event is to increase awareness regarding substance misuse and/or mental disorders.
National Prevention Week provides communities with the opportunity to host this event in their own cities and schools. SAMHSA provides promotional materials and toolkits that offer event ideas and tips to help community event organizers.
How can I do that?
If you are an educator or community leader…
  1. Go to SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week website
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Get the toolkit’ in the NPW Planning Toolkit box.
  3. Download ‘Event Ideas’ to get more information on how to organize a National Prevention Week in your school or community.
  4. If you have more questions, contact David Wilson, SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week coordinator, at

If you are a student or parent of a student…
Contact your school administration to see if they would be willing to host events at your school or in your community during National Prevention Week.

Provide School Resource Officers and Nurses with Naloxone

The vast reach of the opioid crisis is not limited to adults, the poor, or urban areas. This epidemic is affecting students and their family members. More and more schools are finding it necessary to stock naloxone, better known by its brand name of Narcan, resuscitate overdose victims. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths have hit record numbers in recent years. The National Association of School Nurses supports keeping naloxone in schools, and law enforcement officers are now being equipped with the life-saving drug.
Kentucky, Rhode Island, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Delaware, and New York, have access to Narcan in their schools through their resource officers or school nurses. Some schools even allow other employees, such as administrative staff or teachers, to be trained and excused from liability if administration of naloxone is needed.
How can I do that?1. Contact your school’s administrators (principal, vice-principal, school board), local drug coalition, school resource officer, or nursing staff member to see what is already in place or what restrictions your school and district might have.2. Get funding and purchase Narcan! Adapt Pharma has a ‘Free NARCAN Nasal Spray High School Program’ that gives high schools Narcan for free. (Schools must adhere to the requirements listed on their application.) The Department of Health and Human Services Blue Cross Blue Shields of Tennessee have grants available.3. Train everyone that you can. Contact your local health department for training on how to use Narcan appropriately. The Department of Health and Human Services can help states pay for training.

Help Pregnant Women Struggling with Addiction

Pregnant women with substance use disorder run the risk of their babies being born drug-dependent.
Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) experience withdrawal symptoms after birth and usually require hospitalization, intensive care and medication(s) for several weeks to keep them comfortable and safe during the withdrawal process.

Let your loved one know that you are supportive by encouraging her to seek treatment. Offer to provide assistance in finding resources.
Check out the resources below to see what action steps to take next depending upon where your family member is in the process.

Receive Naloxone Training

In 2015 Tennessee had the 10th highest overdose mortality rate in the nation. Naloxone can reverse a potentially fatal overdose by allowing the person to breathe normally after the opioid medication has slowed their breathing to a dangerous rate. Having access to Naloxone, and having the proper training to use it, could save a life.

How can I do that?
Visit the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services website to learn more about Naloxone and opioid education.
View the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist (ROPS) Map to find contact information for your region.
Contact the specialist in your region to schedule an opioid education and naloxone training.
For general information, self-assessment, Good Samaritian law information, and additional resources visit the TN Depatment of Health website listed below.

Attend Family Therapy

The goal of family therapy is to reduce the impact of addiction on both the person who struggles with substance abuse and their family by initiating communication. Families are taught how to use their strengths and resources to help their loved one live without substance abuse and are allowed to ask questions/begin a dialogue. Contributing factors such as parenting skills, abuse, depression, family conflict and unemployment may be addressed as necessary in treatment.
It is important to determine the appropriateness and level of involvement of family members. Counselors will discuss the home environment to ensure it is a safe place for the person with substance use disorder and their family. Everyone must feel safe and able to voice their feelings and opinions without fear of retribution. The most common forms of family therapy are behavioral contracting, behavioral marital therapy, multidimensional family therapy, solution-focused therapy and multifamily groups. Some of the benefits gained by family therapy participants include understanding the nature of addiction and how it affects behavior, awareness of family dynamics, improved communication, trust, setting boundaries, learning self-care and sharing feelings/owning your emotions.
How can I do that?Search for therapists in your area who specialize in substance abuse disorder and utilize behaviroal contracting, behavioral marital therapy, multidimensional family therapy, solution-focused therapy, and multifamily groups. Check out the following resources for help in searching for a Family Therapist in your area.
Psychology Today’s Therapist Finder

Erect a Billboard in Your Community

An effective billboard campaign reinforces an idea by being a simple, yet eye-catching reminder for people who drive the same routes on a regular basis. The strategic placement of billboards can reach your target audience when they are on routine business trips and on occasional casual trips. Billboards can also offer convenient guidance for someone who sees the sign and wants to take action in the moment. For example, a person who is driving home may pass a sign for a substance misuse treatment center at the next exit and decides to stop for information or pamphlets about the program.
An organization may greatly benefit from this advertising technique because the ad stays up 24 hours a day, seven days a week and engages an audience the moment it is displayed. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America in 2010, more than 90% of Americans had at least one vehicle and made at least one interstate trip each weekday. A combination of exposure and a bold message will create awareness and a lasting impact on a community in the fight against opioids.
How can I do that?
1. Develop a strategy for reaching the most people and having the strongest impact (6-10 billboards in high traffic locations)
2. Design the billboard(s)
3. Approach your local coalition for help in funding and/or funding your project