Battling a national crisis

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Community colleges have launched initiatives and programming to help those affected by the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic is hitting many communities hard. According to the federal government, more than 115 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids. In the House of Representatives’ bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, there’s language included about combating the opioid epidemic on campuses.

At the institutional level, community colleges have already been working to offer more resources and training to help those affected by the national crisis.

In Connecticut, where there were 917 overdoses in 2016, Housatonic and Gateway Community Colleges received state grants last fall to address the growing opioid problem within the state. Housatonic organized several on-campus activities, including Narcan training for faculty and staff, public awareness activities and training on the safe storage and safe disposal of opioids.

The grant at Gateway helped fund the creation and distribution of printed materials used to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction and resources available to those seeking help. The college also held educational programs on addiction and recovery for members of the Gateway campus community.

Butler County Community College in Pennsylvania launched the “Reset Your Brain” initiative in January with the help of a local licensed therapist. The college offers free classes promoting natural “endorphin-resurrecting” approaches to overcome opioid addiction. Its second series of classes, which started this month, include presentations and activities such as yoga, meditation and outdoor adventuring.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this year declared the opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency. There were more than 4,600 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2016, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Nursing students at Virginia’s Paul D. Camp Community College have organized the second annual Opioid Epidemic Symposium for late June. The goal is to educate people about addiction and how to help those that may need it. Speakers include a recovering addict and a local man whose daughter died of a heroin overdose.

And last fall in Maryland, Howard Community College’s Health Sciences Division partnered with the Howard County Health Department to offer Naloxone training on how to respond to an opioid overdose. More than 190 students, faculty and staff received the training, making it one of the largest single trainings by the Health Department.

How is your college bringing awareness to this issue and helping the campus community? Sound off at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.