Expert forum at Elon offers insight into the opioid epidemic

Concern about the growing opioid epidemic prompted the Elon community to organize the forum as a way to educate students, faculty and staff.

Elon explored the roots and impact of the national opioid epidemic with a pair of events during fall 2018 designed to share the insights of faculty and community experts.  

For years at Elon, faculty and staff have been concerned about the opioid epidemic and have sought to educate students about the impact the epidemic is having on communities across the country. The epidemic continues to gain additional attention nationally, and in October 2018, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which seeks to address the growing problem of opioid and substance use disorders in the United States. 

To help foster discussion and share information about the epidemic, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Carroll hosted an "Opioid 101" talk in the early fall. That discussion was followed by a forum featuring local experts about the epidemic organized by Carmen Monico, assistant professor of human service studies. 

The Let’s Talk About it! Expert Forum on the Opioid Epidemic was held on November 9, 2018 at the Global Commons Media Room. The panel was comprised of Carroll, who has conducted extensive and significant research on this issue, along with staff from the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the Division of Public Health in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Mat Gendle, professor of psychology and director of Project Pericles, facilitated a Q&A section with panelist and representatives from the Alamance County opioid working group, who served as resources, addressing some of the questions.

Student questions focused on the prevalence and incidence of the epidemic across different social groups, how to recognize the addition among friends and families, the stigma surrounding this addition, and how to prevent it. All panelists pointed to existing resources for diagnosis and treatment. Monico organized the forum with support from this Substance Education Curriculum Infusion Grant.

The Department of Political Science and Policy Studies also endorsed the forum, and students from this department and from public health also attended. The forum was attended by about 50 faculty, staff and students. Educational materials were shared among participating students prior to the forum. 

The Forum on the Opioid Epidemic can be viewed in Learning on Demand:

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