Increase Community Awareness Through Religious Organizations

Religious-based organizations can educate themselves on the opioid epidemic and the science of addiction. They can in turn share this information with their community.
It is imperative to create a culture of acceptance and support without enabling a person struggling with addiction.
When addiction is viewed as a chronic condition, not simply a personal failure, it becomes an opportunity for better understanding amongst members of their organization who may be struggling with addiction or who have family or friends who struggle with addiction. The lines of communication are opened, and it makes someone who needs help and resources apt to approach the organization’s leadership for assistance.
There are federal and state resources available to assist religious organizations in this endeavor.
More education, including but not limited to: neurological evidence about addiction as a disease, how trauma can affect someone with a predisposition towards addiction, medication assisted treatment programs, safe drug disposal and proper pain management can all help in generating a supportive and compassionate environment.
How can I do that?Your community can partner with your local public health office, hospitals, community health centers or nonprofit service organizations to host educational events.

Compete for the NIDA Addiction Science Award (High School)

What are Addiction Science Projects? Addiction science fair projects are any science fair project that contributes to the knowledge of addiction and its health consequences. Students educate themselves and fellow classmates on the science behind addiction. They can even compete for awards specific to the topic.
The NIDA Addiction Science Award is given by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the three best addiction science fair projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). First place receives $2500, second place receives $1500 and third place receives $1000. NIDA announces their winners at the Special Awards ceremony during ISEF, and all award recipients are invited to visit NIDA in Bethesda, Maryland.  What makes a project eligible for competition? According to NIDA’s website, projects eligible for a NIDA Science Fair Award must be conducted under the supervision of a science teacher or science mentor deemed qualified by a science teacher. All ISEF rules for experiments apply.
ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. It features more than 1,500 high school students’ independent research.
How can I do that?1. Browse study areas and suggested topics from the NIDA website, and pick one that interests you.2. Seek out a science teacher or science mentor to supervise your work.3. Comply with all ISEF rules re: your experiment and submission/competition guidelines.

Host a Graduation from Treatment Event

A narcotic treatment center should provide adequate medical, counseling, vocational, educational, mental health assessment, and social services for patients enrolled in the opioid treatment process with the goal of the individual becoming free of opioid dependency. Finishing a program for treating opioid addiction is a very exciting step for someone recovering from addiction, and it should be celebrated as such. To show your support for an individual recovering from addiction, throwing a graduation party to celebrate that they finished a program at a treatment center is a great idea!
How can I do that?1. Depending on the scale of the party, a location should be chosen to host the party. A lot of treatment centers will allow you to use a room on site, as well as community centers. 2. Decide how involved you want your party to be. Here are a few suggestions for things that can be included: food, drinks, graduation caps, mock diplomas, and gifts. Those are just a few of the many possible elements your party could have. 3. Check out this website to learn more and for ideas:

Start a Residential Treatment Center in Your Area

Those seeking residential care don’t qualify for hospitalization, but would benefit from a 24-hour treatment facility. Many residential treatment centers use the Therapeutic Community model. This model’s focus is on the entire community.  It is structured with activities and therapy designed to help residents examine and challenge long held negative beliefs and concepts which leads to destructive patterns of behavior. That way they can form new, positive and constructive thought patterns and ways of interacting with others. This supportive environment provides an opportunity for the resident to address the psychological and social aspects of their addiction. Emphasis is placed on personal accountability and responsibility as well.
Treatment Centers can be modified to specifically serve a target group or simply include services that can assist adolescents, women, the homeless, people with mental disorders and individuals in the criminal justice system.
How can I do that?Checkout the TN Department of Mental Health’s Licensure page from their website.

Consider Faith Based Counseling Services

Faith support is designed to assist an individual in developing their spirituality as an integral part of their recovery from addiction.
If you know someone struggling with addiction, help them find a Spiritual Counselor who encourages patients to overcome addiction by covering practices and principles such as:

  • establishing a relationship with a higher power
  • identifying a sense of purpose and mission in one’s life
  • achieving serenity and peace of mind
  • utilizing spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and yoga

Faith-based counseling can be performed in a group or individual setting. Most group and individual sessions should be expected to last roughly 60 minutes in duration.

How can I do that?

1. Visit the TN Department of Mental Health’s Recovery Support Services page.

2. Click on the Addiction Recovery Program Providers list to view a list of certified spiritual counselors.

Host an Addiction Seminar, Community Focused Opioid Summit, or Workshop

Many people know little about the opioid epidemic or the science of addiction. One way to increase general awareness within a community is to host a seminar on the topic. It can be as detailed as a workshop tailored for first responders or as relaxed as a PowerPoint presentation viewed at a town hall meeting.

How can I do that?
1. Contact your local anti- drug coalition or the Tennessee Department of Mental Health for resources on lectures, programs, speakers and other materials.
2. Decide on a date for the event.
3. Choose a location to hold your seminar and reserve the space.
4. Tell everyone! Invite your community to attend your seminar(s), but be sure to let them know any other important instructions (i.e. space is limited, any costs involved, registration information).

Use Operation Prevention™’s Classroom Resources in Your Classroom (Middle School)

Operation Prevention™ is an educational initiative developed jointly by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Discovery Education to educate students about the true impacts of opioid misuse and encourage lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom.
Operation Prevention™’s classroom resources provide educators with valuable lessons and other tools aligned with national health and science standards.
These resources, which are entirely free, include digital classroom lessons, on demand virtual field trips, a parent toolkit and a student learning module.  They integrate seamlessly into classroom instruction and introduce students to the science behind opioids and their impact on the brain and body.   

How do I implement an Operation Prevention tool into my lesson plan?1. Go to the Operation Prevention™ website2. Click on the ‘Classroom Resources’ in the menu bar at the top of the page.3. Select your age group (Elementary, Middle or High School).4. Download the Digital Lesson and Educator’s Guide.5. Follow instructions in the Educator’s Guide to present material in the Digital Lesson.

STEM Students Incorporating Opioid Issues

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math students from all over the world are being challenged to tackle real-life issues within their classrooms. Certain student entrepreneurs are taking their projects and going beyond their universities to get patents and work with companies to make their ideas a reality.
The opioid crisis is on ongoing issue in communities across Tennessee and the United States. STEM students are working to make positive steps to help solve opioid related issues.
An aspiring engineer from NYU Tandon, Artin Perse, is a great example of someone seeking to make an impact. His creation: a locking, tamper-resistant pill bottle equipped with a timing mechanism, which can be set to dispense only the dosage determined by the prescribing physician.

Could you or a bright student you know be the next prominent STEM designer?

How can I do that?As a teacher, when challenging your students to make a solution for a problem, make a more specific project by incorporating the opioid epidemic.
This can be used as an opportunity to educate your students on the opioid crisis, as well as potentially stimulate the creation of future products or designs that apply to the opioid epidemic.


Host an Addiction Science Fair (Middle School and High School)

When making a science fair project, a topic is thoroughly researched in an effort to learn more about it. Then, a problem is identified and an effort is made to find a solution to that problem, or simply do more research and effectively communicate it. This gives students an opportunity to learn about a topic on their own, and delve deeper into it.
Most science fairs are broken down into categories. If you are unable to host a specific addiction or opioid crisis science fair, adding both of those as categories would ensure some entries.
The science of addiction is diverse, and includes any research that contributes to the understanding of addiction and its health consequences. This includes: understanding who abuses drugs and why, basic biology like genetics, brain structure and function, behavior that can lead to drug abuse or addiction, prevention and treatment, and health services research.

How can I do that?
TeachersAs a teacher, this can be an individual class project, where all students participate.
ParentsAs a parent, you can suggest to administrators or to parent/teacher organizations host a school wide addiction or substance use science fair.

Participate in Tennessee Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education (Professional Schools)

Part of the TN Together Plan, the Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education will develop competencies for Tennessee’s medical educational institutions to address proper treatment for pain, safe and effective prescribing practices, and proper diagnoses and treatment for individuals abusing or misusing controlled substances.
 This 19-member commission is made up of experts from state, public, and private medical educational institutions, the Tennessee Department of Health, a broad group of professional associations, and licensed health care practitioners.
How can I do that?Universities and professional schools can adopt the new standards upon their completion.