Programs to facilitate discussions needed about opioid use are now available for communities across North Dakota and South Dakota.

“Strengthening the Heartland provides education to help prevent opioid misuse in rural communities across North and South Dakota,” said Meagan Scott, assistant professor and 4-H youth development specialist in the North Dakota State University Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development. “Strengthening the Heartland offers free facilitated presentations. This Is (Not) About Drugs is targeted to grades 6-12 and helps raise youth awareness of the risks of misusing prescription opioids and encourages them to seek alternatives to substances while dealing with stress. This program is great for in the classroom or as a school assembly since it’s just an hour long.”

The Opioid Public Health Crisis presentation helps adults address opioid misuse, risk factors and suggested prevention methods. It’s also free and about 1 hour long.

“The presentations are interactive with lots of discussion,” Scott said.

North Dakota State University Extension and South Dakota State University Extension collaboratively developed the Strengthening the Heartland programs with grant support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Scott said 13 individuals from across North Dakota are trained to present these programs, including school counselors, counseling and university professionals, college students and other individuals who have interest in or connection to the issue. Scott said the program needs more presenters, and anyone interested may contact her to learn more. Presenters complete online trainings and a remote training with Kourtnaye Sturgeon of Overdose Lifeline, Inc., then earn $100 per presentation.

For questions or to schedule a presentation in your community or school, contact brandon.henn46@gmail.com or meagan.scott@ndsu.edu.