Help Those Affected by the Opioid Crisis

Topics: Mental Health and Safety, Family and Stakeholder Engagement

Whether it’s helping families affected by opioid misuse or educating children about the dangers of it, resources out there can assist you.
December 2018, Volume 42, Issue 4

The impact of the opioid crisis is staggering, and it isn’t limited to students of high school age and adults. The rate of opioid-related admissions to pediatric intensive care units increased dramatically between 2004 and 2015, from 24.9 to 35.9 per 10,000 admissions, for example, and foster care systems are inundated with the children of addicted parents.

While public health officials are leading the fight, the problem reaches so far into our communities that no one can stand on the sidelines. Educators have important roles to play.

Whether it’s helping families affected by opioid misuse or educating children about the dangers of it, resources out there can assist you. This list of resources is a starting point for educators to help students and their families who’ve been affected by the opioid crisis and help educate students in an effort to prevent future opioid misuse.

Helping Families

  • Easing the Pain:” This Principal magazine article by Jodie Grant offers ways for educators to work with afterschool and summer learning program facilitators to strengthen support for families affected by opioid misuse.
  • Naloxone in Schools Toolkit: The National Association of Nurses developed a workgroup of stakeholders who created this toolkit that offers school nurses and other school leaders with resources to evaluate and respond to the opioid epidemic appropriately.
  • Operation Prevention—Parent Toolkit: This toolkit is designed to educate parents about opioid misuse so they can pass on accurate information about the crisis to their children. It goes over myths and facts, signs of opioid misuse, discussion starters for them to use with their children, practice refusal skills, and more.
  • Partnership for Drug-Free Kids: This organization helps families struggling with their child’s substance use. They empower families with information, support, and guidance to get the help their loved one needs. This resource offers a phone number, text number, and email address for parents who want to reach out for help.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This organization offers a 24-hour national helpline for those in need to find free and confidential treatment referral information.
  • National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: The Drug Enforcement Agency offers this event as a way for people with leftover prescription opioids to safely, conveniently, and anonymously dispose of the medications. They also provide ways to get rid of these medications for those who missed the official drug take back day.
  • The Opioid Crisis and K–12 Schools Webinar: This webinar is designed for state-, district-, and building-level administrators and teachers to provide effective support of students and families affected by the opioid crisis.

Educating Students

  • Operation Prevention—Classroom Resources: These resources provide educators with engaging tools that are aligned to national health and science standards and integrate seamlessly into classroom instruction. Through a series of hands-on investigations, these resources help elementary and middle-level students understand the science behind opioids and their effect on the brain and body.
  • Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: These prevention principals from the National Institute on Drug Abuse are intended to help parents, educators, and community leaders think about, plan for, and deliver research-based drug abuse prevention programs at the community level.
  • Teens: Drug Use and the Brain: The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens offers ways for educators to help teenagers understand the science behind addiction through videos, games, blog posts, polls, and more. A section for teachers specifically focuses on lesson plans they can use in the classroom.
  • D.A.R.E. Elementary School and Middle-Level Curricula: D.A.R.E. curriculum is designed with social-emotional learning in mind and identifies fundamental, basic skills and developmental processes needed to teach children to control their impulses and think about risks and consequences of their choices.
  • Just Think Twice: This resource provides teaching tools like the “Anti-Opioid PSA: Don’t Do It” music video and the latest news related to the opioid crisis that educators can use to help students understand what’s at stake from opioid addiction.

Many more resources are available. If you’ve used one that’s been particularly helpful in your school, let us know. Email with the resource, and we’ll add it to this list.

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