Lyon County, Nevada communities– Healthy Communities’ Stand Tall youth leadership teams were one of just 9 groups across the U.S. awarded a 2017 Cardinal Health Foundation funded opportunity for training in peer to peer presentations and education about the harmful effects of prescription drug misuse and its tie to heroin abuse.
Healthy Communities’ Prevention Coordinator Tammy Sutton explained, “This is a great example of effective youth-led substance abuse prevention. Our young people are taking relevant and accurate information, then learning to use it to educate their peers.”
In April 2017, Stand Tall members will begin learning how to present the prescription drug misuse prevention presentation called “The pHARMING Effects” to their peers at school and in their communities. After they’re trained, Stand Tall youth will lead 2 to 3 presentations in Lyon County communities within about a 6 month time frame.
”The pHARMING Effects” presentation was created by a group of teens from Ohio who adapted a toolkit from the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy’s Generation Rx Initiative. They transformed it into an exciting and interactive youth-led presentation.
The presentation includes discussion of the impact of prescription drug marketing and tips on how to think critically about this advertising; a definition of prescription drug abuse and misuse; and proven, evidence-based strategies youth can use to initiate change in their own homes, schools, and communities.
What is Stand Tall? Stand Tall teams’ energetic work to promote health and wellness among their school peers and in their communities is part of Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties’ regional Health Hub. Stand Tall teams are based at Yerington High, Fernley High, Silver Stage High, Silver Stage Middle, and Dayton High schools. These young leaders learn skills such as public speaking, and work with their schools and communities to prevent alcohol, tobacco, prescription and other drug use and to promote good nutrition, mental health and physical fitness. The teams also take on a number of projects every year to serve their communities, such as coat, shoe and food drives. Stand Tall teams help raise funds for their teams by providing face painting and other services at community events. Stand Tall sponsors 5K Walk/Run events to promote fitness and to raise funds for their annual scholarships for students from each high school in Lyon County.
Prescription Drug Misuse in Nevada: Drug overdose deaths involving opioids – prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as illegal drugs like heroin – are a growing problem nationwide, and Nevada has been particularly hard hit by the epidemic. Our state has some of the highest rates of prescription painkillers sold and drug overdose deaths per capita.
During a statewide 2016 Prescription Drug Prevention Summit, Governor Brian Sandoval said, “Since 2003, overdose deaths have steadily risen … harming greater and greater numbers of families, shattering lives, destroying futures and inflicting grief and sadness.”
Coordinated Statewide Efforts: A report on the findings from that Summit indicate that prevention, early intervention, and appropriate treatment will all assist in addressing the prescription drug issues in Nevada. Community coalitions across Nevada, such as Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties, are among those working in the prevention, early intervention and community education strategies. Those efforts will be paired with policy improvements in Nevada’s system, leading to long term and widespread improvement. Policy change suggestions emerging from the Summit include improving medical provider/prescriber education and guidelines, increasing data collection, intelligence sharing, and coordination efforts, and increasing access to Naloxone, among many others. States that have seen the greatest reductions in opioid overdose and abuse rates have focused on 4 key areas including required physician and prescriber education, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program utilization, Good Samaritan immunity laws, and expanded access to the opioid antagonist called Naloxone (when administered properly, Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose).