Resources Available to Help Those Coping with Epidemic of Opioid Misuse
To the Editor:
In the wake of the most recent heroin related deaths in South County, many people in our community are experiencing deep loss, grief, helplessness, anger and a strong sense of outrage. To everyone that is touched by this issue: you are not alone. We talk with people weekly, and even daily, who have lost someone, are struggling to know how to help a loved one, or are seeking support for their own recovery and in other ways, surviving with an opioid use disorder.
As a community – as a county, a state, and country – we have a lot of work to do to make it possible for more people to heal. To better prevent anyone from becoming addicted in the first place. To make it so that anyone who needs help can and does get it. And to stop overdoses before they become fatal.
In this time of grief and intense loss, we wanted to share with the community in South County some of the resources that are available and make connections to community efforts to address the issue. There is still more that is needed. We hope that in sharing these resources and efforts, we can collectively do more for our community.
In Our Schools: Both the Southern Berkshire Regional School District and Berkshire Hills Regional School District incorporate a substance abuse prevention curriculum called LifeSkills in their health classes. The LifeSkills Curriculum is an evidence-based curriculum that has been shown to effectively prevent both drug and alcohol use among teens. At the high school level, both districts also utilize a screening tool called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), to help identify students who may have a problem with drug or alcohol use early and get them support and treatment. Evidence-based prevention, early intervention and referral to treatment is provided by the Brien Center in schools as well.
Starting Prevention Early: South Berkshire Community Health Coalition is focused on reducing alcohol and other drug use among young in our community. Hosted by Railroad Street Youth Project, the coalition is made of up a wide range of community organizations and individuals, and includes representatives from both South County school districts and police departments. Early alcohol or drug use, impacts brain development and increases the risk for addiction later in life. The longer a young person delays use of alcohol and other drugs, the less risk they have for a substance use disorder later. For more information about the Coalition or their projects, email email@example.com.
There are many more treatment options, resources and community efforts happening throughout the county and beyond. And as long as we are losing friends and family to heroin, opioids and other drugs in our communities, we know it is not enough. But, we hope that as a community, together we can build on what is already underway to make the change we need.
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