Inspiring agents of change

Twlug–ASP 2015 National Winner

Fall 2015 Cub Scouts Day at the ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy.

For nearly half a decade, prescription opioids have been the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Tennessee is ranked the 11th state nationwide for number of overdoses per year. Fatalities from opioid overdose continue to increase as more and more Appalachian residents fall victim to prescription drug abuse, misuse, and addiction. At the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, we believe that it is our responsibility as health care professionals to prevent substance use disorders whenever possible. 


It is important that our Generation Rx Committee keeps striving for excellence in this area that has been devastated by the consequences of prescription opioid misuse. Although it seems to be an uphill battle at times, our team and chapter advisor are determined to persevere. Identifying the needs of our community has allowed us to foster relationships with community leaders and implement our services efficiently and effectively. By customizing our community outreach, we are diligently working to reverse the devastating trends and consequences of prescription drug abuse. 


In the community


Our Generation Rx Committee endeavors to be inspirational agents of change at every community event in which we participate. Whether we are at the surrounding area schools, youth centers, churches, or a detention center, our message resonates with nearly everyone in attendance.


Many have unfortunately witnessed a friend or family member impacted by the disease of addiction. We educate Appalachian students, residents, and organization leaders about prescription drug abuse, misuse, and addiction. We provide them with a variety of resources and make them aware of the available avenues for help and support. Agents of change are innovative, eager members of society that are willing to volunteer their time and newfound knowledge to fight against the opioid epidemic. This truly is the motto and a core value of our committee. Our agents of change have influenced thousands of individuals to be a voice in the fight against prescription drug abuse and associated consequences. 


Collaboration


Through collaboration in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and eastern Kentucky, our initiative has spread across the hills of Appalachia. 


Our continued partnership with Virginia’s REVIVE! has enabled us to train numerous health care providers, community leaders, and members of the at-risk population to respond to an opioid overdose with the administration of the reversal agent naloxone. 


Chapter members joined with the Tennessee Department of Health to develop a state-specific toolkit for a naloxone training program for health care providers and laypersons. Over the next year, we will be working with the other colleges of pharmacy in Tennessee to take naloxone education statewide. 


We have also taken advantage of many opportunities to educate youth at a Drug Awareness Day event with the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City, the Keep Kids Off Drugs, and Once Upon A Time programs at our local Carver Recreation Center. We also attended a Cub Scout Day event. We engaged the audience by using educational games, presentations, and skits to provide interactive learning about medication safety. These opportunities provide our members with a valuable and personal perspective of the community we serve while allowing us to educate the next generation of patients and community leaders.


Personal stories


This past year, our committee members developed a skillset specific to combating prescription drug abuse and misuse through the educational efforts of Generation Rx. We believe that education is the key to successfully decreasing prescription drug abuse, misuse, and substance use disorders. 


During our events, a committee member shares their personal story about how addiction has affected them. This not only helps break down individual barriers, but also shows our audience that there are many personal reasons of why we choose to participate in Generation Rx. The hard work and dedication of our agents of change have demonstrated a force in our community that continues to ripple across the mountains of Appalachia. 


The success of our committee is directly attributed to the willingness and eagerness of our committee members and our community to fight against prescription drug abuse through education, leadership, and inspiration.