Giving attention to prevention

January 15, 2014
Maureen Fitzgerald, Editor
ATTC Network Coordinating Office

Dr. H. Westley Clark will kick off the 2014 Third Thursday iTraining series on January 16 (2:00-3:30 p.m. EST) with an overview of the prescription drug abuse problem and SAMHSA’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit.

The Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit, released in August 2013 to coincide with International Overdose Prevention Day is the first federal resource designed to prevent deaths from opioid overdose.  By promoting use of naloxone, the life-saving drug that reverses the effects of heroin, the toolkit is likely to have already made a difference in many of the states that have approved legislation that makes naloxone available to first responders. At last count, based on NASADAD’s 2013 report, that’s 19 states. 

That number will soon increase to 20 or more states, as just this week the Wisconsin State Assembly unanimously approved bipartisan bills to combat the state’s opioid abuse epidemic. The legislation, if passed by the Wisconsin State Senate, will increase access to naloxone, provide immunity to bystanders (often fellow drug users) who call 911 to aid an overdose victim, and make it harder to get prescription painkillers illegally.

State Representative John Nygren authored the bills, titled the Hope Agenda (Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education). Nygren has a personal stake in the issue: his daughter Cassie, now 24, survived a heroin overdose in 2009. He talks about his experience as a parent in a video produced for the state’s heroin prevention program, The Fly Effect.

In nearby  Minnesota, State Senator Chris Eaton is working on similar legislation. For Senator Eaton, too, the issue is personal: she lost a daughter to an overdose in 2007.

These legislators and others across the nation who have been personally affected by opioid abuse and overdose show us that substance abuse knows no boundaries, affecting people of all ages and economic backgrounds. Tools like the Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit and state laws that promote lifesaving measures will go a long way toward reducing the stigma and shame that keeps people from seeking treatment and reclaiming their lives.   

Please join the ATTC Network tomorrow for Dr. Clark's presentation. You can register in advance at 
The webinar will also be archived for viewing at a later date.  

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