Substance use disorder affects everyone, not only because anyone is susceptible to the disease, but also that most of us have a loved one, friend, or acquaintance experiencing it.
As the nation continues to combat the issue, professionals both in and outside of the health care field are seeing the disease creep into their work.
A program through IU's Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge is addressing this issue by hosting workshops aimed at preparing students, across professions and sectors, to recognize and respond to opioid and substance use disorder. That includes not only responding to a person who has the disease, but also identifying and assisting their children and/or family members.
"The Education Addictions Certificate program aims to increase the number of individuals in Indiana’s future frontline workforce who are able to connect people affected by addiction to expertise and resources in the community," said Andrea Pfeifle, executive director, IU Interprofessional Practice and Education Center. "This critical workforce includes teachers, administrators, social workers, nurses and others embedded in education. By coming together across professions and disciplines, our hope is to help build a broader community of people addressing this issue."
So far, the series has hosted four workshops. Topics have focused on supporting children of parents living with substance use disorder, the opioid public health crisis, naloxone training and stigma around substance use disorder.
More than 150 students have attended the workshops so far, representing the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Education; Nursing; Public Health and Social Work.
Missy Hamilton, a sophomore in the IU School of Nursing in Bloomington, is one of the students who has taken advantage of the workshops. Growing up with a mom in the health care field, Hamilton always knew she wanted a career that allowed her to help people.
While her classes have touched on addiction and the opioid crisis, Hamilton said she enjoyed the opportunity to dig deeper and be involved in a discussion with students outside her area of study.
"I think addiction is a societal disease," she said. "Everyone knows someone who has dealt with addiction, especially in the past couple of years with the opioid crisis. It is so important that we see this as a societal problem and not just an individual problem. Everyone plays a role in this and these workshops allowed us to expand on that idea."
For Dan Melnick, associate director of professional community programs at the IU Bloomington School of Education, the series was a natural fit for the school which aims to bring real-world learning into its students’ learning experience.
Many people, Melnick said, have the misperception that teachers attend class, grade papers and then go home. But there is more to teaching than just reciting lessons from a textbook. Students inevitably bring their home life into the classroom, and substance use disorder is no different.
"No one gets into teaching because they don't care," Melnick said. "Teachers have the ability to change lives and that includes not only educating the next generation but helping to provide an atmosphere that best fosters that learning. Whether it is working with a teenager with their own substance use disorder or students who are facing it at home, we want to prepare our future teachers and help them maximize the amount of good they bring to the classroom."
- Referral to treatment, 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 12 at the IU School of Education, Room 2140. The workshop will discuss how to recognize the characteristics of an individual struggling with substance use disorder, employ a referral process to that individual, and generate a list of resources to assist them.
- Supporting children of parents living with substance use disorder, date to be announced. The workshop will consist of an overview of substance misuse in the U.S., the impact of parental misuse and mental health issues on children and families, and ways to provide support to children and families through trauma-informed care.
Responding to the Addictions Crisis
The Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge initiative engages a broad array of IU's world-class faculty, as well as IU's business, nonprofit and government partners. Working together, the groups are contributing to an initiative to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce deaths from addiction, ease the burden of drug addiction on Hoosier communities and improve health and economic outcomes. This initiative is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis -- and the largest led by a university.