Opioid education program happening Tuesday in East Alabama

Several gather for opioid training institute in east Ala.

OPELIKA, Ala. (WSFA) - The Opioid Training Institute, a collaborative program offered by the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy and the Alabama Department of Mental Health, is trying to spread awareness and knowledge about opioid abuse in East Alabama.

The Opioid Training Institute will have free training sessions in the Auburn-Opelika area to help the community learn more about fighting the opioid epidemic.

Officials say the sessions are targeted for community members and leaders. They say because of the variety of uses, someone could come into contact with opioids from street drugs to prescription drugs. The problem affects all socio-economic statuses, and that’s why members of the the community are needed to fight the problem.

“What we’re seeing is that community members are really beginning to develop an appreciation for how the problem impacts Alabama, specifically our state. How they can get involved in terms of what to watch for in people they know who might have an opioid use problem, and also opportunities or resources that are available throughout the state if they do encounter someone who has opioid use disorder,” says Brent Fox, an associate professor for Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy.

Fox says he believes in the training for the community.

“What we hope to do is bring together individuals from the community who have an interest in learning about the problem and hopefully learning how to address the problem,” Fox said.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, in 2017, the most recent data on record, there were 836 drug overdose-related deaths reported and 50% of those involved opioids.

“Every county is impacted, some more than others based on local factors, but it impacts every county in our state,” Fox said..

Health officials with the East Alabama Medical Center say that it’s not hard to become addicted to opioids, and if you’re suffering from chronic pain, there are better alternatives.

“Chronic pain often responds much better to physical therapy. Even Tylenol or Advil, ibuprofen is often much better for the pain than the narcotic,” says Alan Moore, EAMC Emergency Department medical director. "Narcotics work well for a broken leg for the first several days, but if you have chronic leg pain for months, the narcotic pain control effect wears off fairly quickly, in a matter of weeks. "

The free training sessions will be held at the Marriott Grand National in Opelika on July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Walk-up attendees will be accepted, but participants are encouraged to pre-register.

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