Providing community-based prevention education to address the opioid crisis that affects communities throughout Indiana is one of Purdue Extension’s top priorities.
“We are dedicated to developing partnerships throughout the state to serve as a proactive, preventive and positive force in tackling this complex issue,” said Angela Abbott, Purdue Extension’s associate director and assistant dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.
To advance this goal, Purdue Extension recently launched the website extension.purdue.edu/opioids. The site provides information on important Extension programs and resources available to people throughout the state.
“Parents want to protect their children, but it’s challenging,” Abbott said. “Youth need skills to help them resist the peer pressure that leads to risky behaviors. Research shows that protective parenting improves family relationships and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use.”
To this end, Purdue Extension offers Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 in multiple locations throughout the state.
The evidence-based curriculum has been proven to delay the onset of adolescent substance use; lower levels of youth aggression; increase resistance to peer pressure; reduce youth conduct problems in school; and improve parent skills in building positive relationships, setting appropriate limits, and following through on consequences while showing love and support.
“There’s no question that reaching young audiences and families to stop behaviors before they start is a critical strategy that we want to share with our communities,” said Abbott.
Purdue Extension also has a team of certified facilitators of Mental Health First Aid. Mental Health First Aid teaches participants how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, or has signs of substance use disorders, including opioid use. Mental Health First Aid courses educate on signs and symptoms of a variety of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders, trauma and deliberate self-injury. Participants will learn how to assist those in need during specific situations and how to obtain appropriate help from a health professional.
Skills learned during these courses may also help individuals navigate challenging circumstances taking place in one’s own life, workplace, or among family and friends. The cost of the daylong course, which includes a Mental Health First Aid participant manual and lunch, is $50. All course offerings and registration can be accessed by visiting: extension.purdue.edu/opioids.
Stephanie Woodcox, assistant program leader for Purdue Extension in the College of Health and Human Sciences, says that while these courses are open to all adults, they can be particularly valuable to those working with or in the agriculture industry: “The agriculture industry can be very stressful, especially during volatile economic times. High rates of stress often leave people looking for ways to cope, which puts a strain on their mental health and overall well-being, as well as that of their families.”
Purdue Extension’s opioid website offers access to other resources, such as a webinar series, videos and printed materials. Purdue Extension also has offices in every Indiana county that serve as important sources for information. Phone numbers, email addresses and contacts can be found at extension.purdue.edu.