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 david.wilson@samhsa.hhs.gov

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.

Introduce Opioid Education in Classrooms

Teaching school children about the opioid epidemic, whether in a school or as a parent, doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, the National Institution on Drug Abuse has multiple resources put together for teachers and parents. On their website, find more than 90 free classroom lessons, multimedia activities, and more on the effects of drugs and drug use on the brain, body, and life of children and teens.
How can I do that?
ParentsParents can visit the NIDA website and use the resources to help educate their children in the home
TeachersTeachers can visit NIDA’s website to locate and use their lesson plans in the classroom, either as a lesson plan as part of a health class or as a course about addiction.
Parent Teacher OfficersPTO members or school administrators can petition to include addiction and opioid education as part of health curriculum for students of all ages.

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Engage your State and Congressional Representatives

Your community may be impacted by legislation that is proposed by state or federal lawmakers.  If you have an opinion regarding a bill, you can write your representative and convey your opposition or support for a particular piece of proposed legislation.
Step 1:
Learn who represents you in the Tennessee General Assembly and the United States Congress.
The Tennessee General Assembly has a “Find My Legislator” tool on its website: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/.  You can enter your address to access an interactive map that allows you to identify your Senate District and Senator, and House District and Representative.  Your Senator and Representative are elected to represent the interests of the people living in their district: their constituents.
Step 2:
Now that you know which Senator and Representative represent you, you must determine how to contact them.  Listings of current Tennessee Senators and Representatives are published on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.
Step 3:
Be timely.
If you want your voice to have an impact on a Senator or Representative’s vote on a particular bill, you must communicate with him or her before action is taken on the bill.  This will require you to monitor the bill’s progress through the General Assembly through its Calendars for committee and floor action.
Step 4:
Make your case.
Now that you know the who, where and when, it’s time for the what.  Depending on your communication skills and preferences, you might find that an in-person meeting or telephone conversation, or both, would be the best way to convey your thoughts on a particular bill.  Many constituents, however, author letters in support or opposition to a particular bill.  Whatever method you select, the following tips will serve you well:
Be clear and concise.  Describe how the bill at issue will impact you, your family or your community.
As much as possible, rely on facts to support your position.
Be respectful.
Be reasonable.
The Tennessee General Assembly has a page devoted to helping constituents understand how best to engage their elected representatives: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/help/contacting.html.

Require Sports Injuries and Pain Education for Students, Coaches, and Parents (Middle School and High School)

Massachusetts has started requiring coaches, athletic directors and trainers, school nurses, parents, and students receive educational materials on how dangerous and addictive opioids can be. Materials are distributed to all student athletes prior to the start of their season. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), and Massachusetts Technical Assistance Partnership for Prevention (MassTAPP) collaborated to make a 7-page packet that highlights resources for addressing opioid misuse or addiction.
How can I do that?Contact your state health department, local drug coalition, or state department of education to find out what next steps can be taken to get a program like this started in Tennessee.

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: http://theoakstreatment.com/about/graduation-ceremony/

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).