A Toolkit for Teenagers: How to Help Those Struggling with Opioid Use

May 21, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis had been the nation’s largest public health emergency. However, the opioid crisis has not disappeared, and has only been exacerbated by these current circumstances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million Americans struggle with an opioid use disorder every year and more than 47,000 lives were lost in 2018 due to the two-decade long opioid crisis. 

A poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association concluded that nearly 1 out of 3 Americans knows someone who has an opioid use disorder; therefore, the opioid crisis is a multidimensional issue that requires the implementation of many resources. In addition, the opioid crisis can affect the most unsuspecting individuals when it comes to developing opioid use disorders. Currently, the vast majority of initiatives to address the crisis are taken by adults, making teenagers passive bystanders. 

As part of my Comenius project, I wanted to empower teenagers to act in situations when encountering a close friend or family member who is battling an opioid or other substance use disorder. To do so, I developed a guide as a resource for teenagers on how to help a loved one who is struggling with an opioid use disorder. 

The guide, called a Toolkit for Teens, is a trifold brochure that details both how and why teenagers can make a difference by extending support to loved ones. My goal is for the Toolkit for Teens to be readily available in schools both in our region and beyond. This guide is the result of discussions with physicians, certified recovery specialists, leaders of rehabilitation services, and others. 

For more information presented in the guide, you can refer to the Toolkit for Teens website here. In addition, more details are provided in my TEDx Talk titled ‘Empowering Teenagers: A New Frontier in the Battle Against the Opioid Crisis’, which can be found here



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