Rx Task Force seeks community direction through new survey
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Three years ago the Rx Task Force began a quest to raise awareness about opioids throughout the Yampa Valley.
Mara Rhodes, regional coordinator for the Rx Task Force, said the number of deaths due to opioid overdoses has fallen since the coalition was founded, and public awareness seems to be growing.
“I think everybody has played a role,” Rhodes said. “I believe we played a role in it in ways I don’t even know. It’s hard to say what impact we have had, but I believe that there is power in conversations. Overdose deaths in our community have gone from 19 down to five, and now, down to just one.”
Rhodes said the prescription drug drop-off box at the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, and the fact that first responders are now carrying Narcan, an overdose-reversing drug, also have had positive impacts on an opioid addiction problem that remains a crisis in the U.S.
“We are part of the conversation that has had an impact on everybody,” Rhodes said. “But I want more.”
To better understand what direction the community wants the opioid education effort to take and to find the best path to that place, the Rx Task Force has created a survey and is asking people to participate at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lb9yc2p.
The survey includes just six questions and the final two allow respondents to provide comments on anything they have gained from the Rx Task Force and what the community would lose if the Rx Task Force disbanded.
“I want to get a collaborative voice,” Rhodes said. “We want to know what we need to do, and we want to know what the community wants us to do.”
Rhodes said the survey is anonymous, and she is hoping to reach younger adults who are under-represented at the Rx Task Force’s Lunch & Learn events.
“We need to get some younger people, more transient people, involved,” Rhodes said. “We want to hear from the people who work in restaurants, the seasonal workers and those younger people who move here after college and may only spend a winter.”
She said that group of people, between the age of 20 and 40, have been mostly absent in this discussion. She said that demographic sees the problems first hand but many times are too busy with their own lives to get involved. Those with a drug problem at that age may avoid seeking treatment because of cost, lack of insurance or restricted access to treatment resources.
Rhodes said mental health issues like addiction often come with a stigma, which is another reason she wanted to keep the survey anonymous. She said nobody wants to talk about addiction, and she didn’t want people to feel like they were being judged for responding to the survey.
The information gained through the survey will be used to help plot the future of the task force. The survey will be open through Sept. 26, just before the start of the 2018 Lunch & Learn Series.
The first Lunch & Learn event will take place Oct. 3 and will address school-based prevention with Jonathan Judge, Rise Above Colorado youth engagement director. The series will continue on Oct. 10 with a presentation on the Lift the Label campaign by Osvaldo “Ozzie” Cabral, director of behavioral health services at New Health Pain Treatment Centers and board president for Rise Up Community High School, a part of Denver Public Schools. The series concludes Oct. 17 with a discussion on family connection and disconnection by Dr. Michael Barnes, chief clinical officer of The Foundry Treatment Center.
The sessions will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs. Lunch will be provided by Taco Cabo.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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