Just Say NOPE
To say that America is in the midst of a painkiller abuse and overdose epidemic is beating a dead horse. Everyone knows it. It’s impossible to watch the news without at least one segment devoted to the deadly effects of prescription opioid drugs.
So, what’s being done? While there are government strategies, various new legislations, and other bureaucratic means, the most effective change seems to come from community intervention.
Enter NOPE, or the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education Task Force. Founded in our very own south Florida in 2002, NOPE has been a dynamic force in educating young people for over a decade.
What started as a group of concerned citizens presenting information in local schools has grown into a national organization that targets all areas of painkiller abuse, from education to advocacy and beyond.
NOPE is just one of a growing number of painkiller abuse prevention programs targeting adolescents and young adults. What makes NOPE unique is how they present their information, as well as the drugs they present on.
According to news outlets, “In an approach that experts say may be more effective than generalized anti-drug curricula of the past, the new programs target painkillers, a narcotic of choice for teenagers” (WNAX).
Narrowing the scope of their presentations from all drugs of abuse to simple painkillers has allowed NOPE to focus on effective information and innovative techniques. The first of these is how instructors tailor their message to specific communities.
Their presentations involve multimedia and a strong interactive component. Also, according to their official site, “…the NOPE presentations is purposefully blunt and evokes powerful emotions” (NOPE).
To take things one step further, NOPE has partnered with Lynn University. Researchers from Lynn are studying NOPE’s programs to find out how, if at all, their presentations have impacted teenagers’ attitudes and behaviors surrounding prescription painkillers.
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Despite offering a valuable service, many anti-drug programs aimed at adolescents face major challenges to their continued operation. Largest among these is an ongoing lack of funding.
Nowhere was this more evident than in 2011 when money for the Office of the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities was drastically cut. In fact, that entire department and the remaining few programs they offered were melded into the Office of Safe and Healthy Students.
Part of this lack of funding comes from the increased importance placed on academic tests. Another part comes from a long history of failed anti-drug programs. Think programs like Just Say No and DARE.
In perhaps the largest blow to all anti-drug programs, the United States Surgeon General issued a harsh report about DARE in late 2001. The report, which was far from the first criticism of the program, stated that DARE had failed to prove effective in reducing teenage drug use.
Hope for NOPE
It’s fair to say that NOPE has faced an uphill battle when it comes to presenting information in schools and to adolescents. It’s a good thing they offer other avenues of addressing painkiller abuse!
As mentioned above, they are actively advocating for changing US prescription drug policy. They also have an addiction treatment guide, which helps those seeking rehab find the right treatment center. They hold regular candlelight vigils for victims of prescription drug overdose.
NOPE also has an online memorial for overdose victims. In this heartwarming section, random visitors to their site can “light a candle” and leave condolences or words of encouragement for the family.
Their varied and many efforts make NOPE a wonderful organization seeking to combat prescription drug abuse in America. Let’s hope we see more and more community-based groups springing up around the country.
It’s through this direct community involvement that the phrase “we can all change” begins to come true!