NEOMED Students Lead Event to Combat Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

Substance abuse is an illness, not a character flaw. And if you are struggling with it, you’re not alone.

Those were two messages conveyed at an informational event organized by Northeast Ohio Medical University student members of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists to provide Portage County community members with ways to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. Community residents mixed with students in a group of more than 150 attendees on the NEOMED campus Saturday, Feb. 11.  

Guest speakers included State Sen. John Eklund (R, District 18); representatives of UH Portage Medical Center, Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, Townhall II (a substance abuse treatment center) and Families Anonymous (a local support group); and a community member currently in recovery.  

At display tables, participants could learn more about organizations and products such as Deterra Systems (a pouch designed to safely dispose of unneeded medications, available for free at local Acme pharmacies), Coleman Professional Services (mental health) and Ohio C.A.N., a support group that gives a voice to families affected by substance use disorder and provides evidence-based information to educate the community on the science of addiction.

Charlie Dorflinger, a third-year College of Pharmacy student, and Autumn Walkerly, a second-year College of Pharmacy student, planned the Feb. 11 event. Dorflinger reported that the Portage County Health District distributed 49 of the 50 Project DAWN (naloxone) kits it had brought. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication that can be administered to reverse an overdose. Dorflinger added, “Project DAWN kits are a great start to saving lives, but the key going forward is prevention of overdose and substance abuse.’’

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