Ninety percent of people who abuse drugs began using before the age of 18. “Addiction is a pediatric disease” according to John Knight, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Which is why NCACH’s Opioid Project has identified upstream prevention strategies as one of their top priorities to reduce opioid addiction and overdose across the North Central region.
Going upstream of addiction means that an intervention or strategy is implemented to prevent addiction from happening in the first place. It takes into account social determinants of health, the conditions where people work, live, and play into context: a healthy community with a thriving economy and robust social networks support healthy people. The inverse is also true – an unhealthy community creates unhealthy people.
In May 2019, NCACH released a request for proposals for school-based opioid prevention efforts across the four-county region. The request for proposals sought out three project leads who would work together to create a regional and local plan to go upstream of opioid addiction in the region’s youth. In other words, to prevent our students from becoming addicted in the first place.
The project’s three main deliverables are:
- To develop an assessment of school-based opioid prevention efforts at all school districts in the area;
- To provide financial (and administrative) support for student led prevention projects; and,
- To develop a 2020-2021 Project/Work Plan and budget that includes engagement with new school partners.
In August 2019, three applicants were selected as project partners for School-Based Opioid Prevention. They are:
- Grant County Health District in Grant County
- Together For Youth in Chelan-Douglas Counties
- Rachel Levi in Okanogan County
NCACH staff are currently working to support the three successful applicants as they begin efforts to conduct assessments and build partnerships across the region. The applicants are also expected to coordinate with locally identified project champions from the March 2019 Opioid Response Conference: Pathways to Prevention.
Project applicants will be sharing updates at the November 2019 Regional Opioid Stakeholder’s Workgroup meeting regarding their progress. Please contact each awardee directly if you would like to learn more or get involved in local efforts in your area.