The opioid crisis is everywhere. In fact, it’s hard to listen to a newscast or scan headlines without the public health emergency being brought up. Opioids aren’t just disrupting the news stream, it’s also causing alarm in communities across the nation.

Luckily, there has been a push in efforts to address the opioid epidemic, including emerging communication tactics. These tactics aim to prevent a new generation of opioid users and to educate the public about spotting opioid abuse. The right form of communication can make a positive impact in the fight against opioid abuse.

The right form of communication can make a positive impact in the fight against opioid abuse.Click To Tweet

Preventing a New Generation of Opioid Users

In Ohio, a new program known as Health and Opioid Prevention Education, or HOPE, has been rolled out to public school students. The lessons begin as early as Kindergarten and aims to teach children the ability to make healthy choices and ultimately prevent drug abuse.

You may be wondering how this program differs from other drug-prevention programs, many of which have failed. Instead of relying heavily on scare tactics, lessons guide students through real-life situations and provides skills children can use when met with difficult choices.

For example, some lessons at the Kindergarten level are having students differentiate between adults, friends and trusted adults who can help them take medicines. Another lesson takes students through an exercise where they analyze choices and determine if they are safe or unsafe.

As students age, the lessons continue to focus on making healthy choices. It’s not until the 3rd grade that lessons start actively encouraging students to be drug free. By incorporating the drug-free message into other helpful health lessons, students will view remaining drug free as a healthy choice. A choice that will only benefit them in the end.

While only time will tell if the new program is successful, it shows great potential to make a positive impact on students’ lives.

Lessons on Spotting Opioid Abuse

Concerned families who suspect a loved one is abusing opioids, may not know where to turn for assistance. However, client Mayo Clinic has published a guide that offers steps on how to tell if opioid abuse or addiction has developed.

The article starts by outlining the chances of developing an addiction. Some factors that increase the likeliness of opioid abuse include:

  • If the loved one is younger in age, specifically if they’re in the teen years or early 20s
  • If they are living in stressful circumstances, including being unemployed or living below the poverty line
  • If a personal or family history of substance abuse exists

The concerned family member is then taken through common signs of opioid addiction. Mayo cautions that a person developing an opioid dependency is still able to maintain the appearance of stability at work and home. However, some signs that may indicate dependency include:

  • Regularly taking an opioid in a way not intended by the doctor who prescribed it, including taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the drug for the way it makes a person feel
  • Taking opioids “just in case,” even when not in pain
  • Mood changes, including excessive swings from elation to hostility

This resource offers actionable steps for a concerned family member by guiding them through a plan and ultimately helping them and their loved one find the help they need. Mayo states it best, “If your instincts are right, speaking up could save the life of someone dear to you.”

While the nation continues to struggle with the opioid epidemic, strategic – and ongoing – communication tactics remain the best bridge to resources and recovery for people of all ages.

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