OGDEN, Utah – In observance of Utah Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week in October, Weber State University and its partners will host a series of events, Oct. 1- 4, to educate the community about the ongoing opioid epidemic, including an Opioid Awareness Fair and an Opioid Awareness Expert Panel.
“The Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions takes pride in being part of our community and being instrumental in educating the public anyway we can,” said Yasmen Simonian, College of Health Professions dean. “The use of opioids is very high in Ogden, and it is part of our mission to offer solutions for this devastating problem.”
The public is invited to the Opioid Awareness fair on the west of the Stewart Bell Tower Plaza, Oct. 1 from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. Attendees will learn more about the opioid crisis from various WSU departments and organizations as well as connect to community resources and health care professionals.
The Opioid Awareness Expert Panel, Oct. 3 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Lindquist Hall Barlow Lecture Hall Room 101, will feature a group of professionals experienced with all aspects of the opioid epidemic, including Maureen Cavanagh, author of “If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey through Her Daughter’s Opioid Addiction.”
Cavanagh founded Magnolia New Beginnings, a non-profit, peer-support group that helps educate people about treatment options and offers support to those affected by addiction. Cavanagh will give two additional presentations during the week.
Frederick Henderson, WSU’s Northern Utah Area Health Education Center director, said WSU’s Opioid Awareness events will help people understand the complexity of opioid addiction as well as shine a light on the silent suffering of those impacted. Henderson lost his son-in-law, Tyler Ross Duran, to the opioid epidemic in August 2018.
“Weber State is an educational, cultural and economic leader for our region, and the community looks to us for answers,” Henderson said. “By increasing awareness, understanding and access to resources, our university not only serves our community, it also honors thousands of loved ones lost to the opioid epidemic, including my son-in-law, Tyler.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017 there were 456 opioid- related deaths in Utah alone. Additionally, the most recent Utah Department of Health data shows that Utah has the seventh highest drug overdose rate in the United States, and downtown Ogden is one of the areas most affected.
“We must contain the opioid epidemic by educating as many people as possible — from doctors to parents, from students to seniors — about the risks of opioids,” said Julie Rich, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences interim dean. “Our Opioid Awareness Week activities will help provide the type of public awareness to empower people with the truth.”
WSU’s Opioid Awareness Week is a collaboration with the WSU College of Science, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Dumke College of Health Professions, the Neuroscience Program, Northern Utah Area Health Education Center, Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service, and Student Wellness. Community partners include OgdenCAN, Utah Harm Reduction Coalition, Utahnaloxone.org, and Weber Human Services.
Opioid Awareness Week is not the first time WSU has addressed the opioid epidemic. A recent edition of the “Wildcat: WSU Alumni Magazine,” detailed the many facets of the opioid crisis, as well as some of the steps WSU is taking to end the epidemic and help those affected. To read more, visit weber.edu/wsumagazine/Fall_2018/opioidcrisis
Calendar of Events
· Opioid Awareness Fair, Oct. 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., west of the Stewart Bell Tower Plaza.
· “The Power of Connection: Ending Shame & Stigma by Telling the Addiction Story,” Maureen Cavanagh, Oct. 2, 7-9:30 p.m., WSU’s Community Education Center Rooms 106 and 108 (2605 Monroe Blvd., Ogden).
· “The Real Face of the Opioid Epidemic: The Family Perspective,” Maureen Cavanagh, Oct. 3, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Hurst Center Dumke Legacy Hall Room 206.
· Opioid Awareness Expert Panel, Oct. 3, 7-8:30 p.m., Lindquist Hall Barlow Lecture Hall Room 101.
· “A Role for Preclinical Pain Research in Addressing the Opioid Crisis,” Laurence Miller, Augusta University professor of psychological sciences, Oct. 4, 12:30-2 p.m. in Lindquist Hall Room 106.
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