By Emily Helldorfer
Two members of the Sacred Heart University faculty recently received a grant from the Connecticut Healthy Campus Initiative to implement opioid prevention and awareness activities on campus.
Dr. Jessica Samuolis and Dr. Victoria Osborne received the $11,000 grant to be put toward a campus-wide project in conjunction with Janice Kessler from the Wellness Center.
“Some of the money will be used to fund the administration of a campus-wide survey on behaviors and attitudes related to substance use,” said Dr. Samuolis. “Funds will also be put toward having several speakers, as well as conducting a workshop for health professionals.”
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 69,000 people die from opioid overdose each year.
In addition, there are an estimated 15 million people who suffer from opioid dependence. An increasing amount of these opioid dependencies and overdoses are from the use of prescription opioids.
Many young people are prescribed opioids as a pain treatment after surgeries or athletic injuries. “Young adults are not immune to addiction,” said Dr. Samuolis, who is a prevention scientist. “Athletes are often prescribed a pain relief medication due to an injury, and if not managed properly that can lead to addiction.”
The grant will fund ‘Opioid Use Prevention and Awareness Day’ on Feb. 7.
This all-day event is for students, faculty and staff. It will start with coffee and bagels in the University Commons lobby and there will be tables in the main academic building all day with volunteers handing out educational materials.
At 2 p.m. in the University Commons, Sarah C. Howroyd will be a guest speaker as part of the Human Journey Colloquia Series.
Howroyd is the co-founder of the H.O.P.E Initiative (Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education).
Later in the evening, former NFL player Jeff Hatch will give a lecture sharing his journey of addiction and recovery in the Schine Auditorium at 8:30 p.m.
Another use for the grant includes purchasing public awareness materials, such as brochures and giveaways. These will be given out around campus and at the event on Feb. 7 to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid use.
“I think that having a program like this is very important for college campuses,” said Alaina Silveri, a senior health science major. “With a problem as big as opioid use, being preventative is the best approach. Receiving this grant is a great step forward to bring awareness.”