Editorial: Athens and OU must address crisis
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The Post Editorial Board
The opioid epidemic has not discriminated in which families it has destroyed or in whose lives it has touched. A decades-long crisis of addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin has left many feeling hopeless or small in the face of an untameable beast.
But there are methods through which Ohio University students and faculty can address those fears and anxieties. After speaking with dozens of people who have been on the frontlines of combating addiction and the stigmas associated with it, we believe the following actions should be taken immediately to provide comfort, support and agency for those who are suffering:
- Awareness components for addressing trauma — whether personal or societal — in each department at OU and through its academic advisors. Students who are struggling in school might not be able to readily admit or recognize the underlying factors of their distraction. Of course, we’re not all social workers, nurses, physicians or educators, but we all should be aware of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and the impacts of trauma on our day-to-day lives.
- Student organizations should find ways to take up volunteer opportunities with local organizations, rather than strictly adhering to national volunteer campaigns. For example, volunteer with Athens County Children Services, which has experienced an increased caseload due to the opioid epidemic, or organize fundraisers for groups on campus and in the community that promote mental health services or drug- and alcohol-free activities.
- Unfortunately, the reality is that college students are going to abuse drugs. That necessitates awareness campaigns so students can know to intervene when a fellow Bobcat mixes alcohol with prescription pills or to stop that behavior themselves. That alone would help save lives.
- Recognize those within your community that may be exhibiting risky behaviors and offer compassionate help, not judgement. The availability of counselors at OU is absolutely imperative to this point, though students can assist by recognizing which of their friends may be drinking in excess or abusing drugs, and offering a helping hand rather than a critical judgement. There are several services on- and off-campus to address care. Seek them out and understand that the steps toward recovery are often terrifying for those suffering from addiction.
- Understand that addiction is not a choice, but a disease. A campaign to recognize that on the university level would be helpful in accomplishing that mindset: Binge-drinking and drug abuse are not just dangerous, but indicative of deeper problems.
- Ensure students are following safe prescription practices and that there are methods through which students can safely dispose of expired medications. Teach and provide alternative pain management methods apart from prescription drugs.
- Provide and offer support groups for students who have lost a family member due to opioid addiction or who have a family member currently suffering from addiction.
— Editorials represent the opinion of the editorial board and do not represent the views of the newsroom at-large. The editorial board consists of Emma Ockerman, Elizabeth Backo, Hayley Harding and Seth Archer.
Development by: Seth Archer / Digital Managing Editor