Program educates Dakotans on opioids

Program educates Dakotans on opioids

A joint North Dakota State University Extension and South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension program is educating residents on opioids using a series of free seminars.

The program, which was launched in 2018, is federally funded by the Strengthening the Heartland program and focuses on prevention in rural communities.

Facilitators, many of whom have mental health and prevention training backgrounds, host one-hour presentations at middle and high schools and adult seminars.

Attendees take surveys after the presentations. Results show adults had a 26.8 percent increase in knowledge, and youth had a 17.7 percent increase.

This year, the program will expand using more than $1.4 million in federal funding over the next two years.

New initiatives include Youth Empowerment Days, a one-day program for 6th through 12th graders participating in four workshops, community reinforcement and family training, evidence-based intervention that teaches families strategies to improve their lives and encourage their loved ones to get treatment.

“We know rural communities have less access to interventions, and this program will help fill that gap,” said Amber Letcher, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist and associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development.

The 12-week community reinforcement and family training program uses 90-minute virtual sessions in a support-group format.