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Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth awarded with non-opioid options grant to educate community

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A new grant, awarded to the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, will help the group promote alternatives to opioid use.

The coalition received an $8,000 grant from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America to address the opioid epidemic locally. The Coalition for Youth’s project coordinator, Ruthanne McCormack, applied for the grant in December, and learned last month that it had been approved. She and coalition member Liz Boylan attended a CADCA Leadership Forum in National Harbor, Md., earlier this month to learn how to implement the project in the village and surrounding areas.

“We congratulate the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth for taking the initiative to participate in the Non-Opioid Choices Project,” Gen. Arthur Dean, CADCA’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “The skills they develop through this project will undoubtedly help bring awareness to alternative pain management options, saving lives and disrupting the tide of the opioid epidemic.” 

The grant, McCormack said, will allow the coalition to join forces with a sister community, the Five Towns, to help educate and work with the medical community to offer non-opioid choices for alleviating pain. “There are options,” McCormack said. “People don’t always need to take opioids after surgeries or procedures. And many don’t understand that [other options] can be just as effective.”

The coalition has medical partnerships with Catholic Health Services, Northwell Health and area dental offices, as well as a working relationship with the Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce, through which they can speak with medical professionals about alternatives and distribute information. The intent is to also engage acupuncturists, chiropractors and those who practice alternative forms of medicine.

“Information is power, and education is the greatest prevention tool,” McCormack said. “There are many people in these areas that want to help but don’t know how to.”

The coalition’s long-term goal is to reduce the availability of opioids through education about the dangers of the use of prescription pain medication. Coalition officials say they hope doctors and pharmacists will pass this information on to patients. “We want to encourage big partners to help us to keep this going,” McCormack said.

CADCA covered the expenses for McCormack and Boylan to attend its National Leadership Forum, along with representatives from 17 other coalitions nationwide. They arrived in National Harbor two days before the conference for training, along with Sgt. Nicholas DeLuca, of the Rockville Centre Police Department, and Susan Blauner, of Saving Lives Five Towns Drug and Alcohol Coalition.

During the training, they learned that “a lot of people are still getting prescribed opioids and getting addicted,” McCormack said. “Youth are still prescribed them after dental surgery and sports injuries.”

To combat the problem, McCormack said, she and Boylan would ask doctors to prescribe opioids for three days instead of seven, reducing the risk of addiction. In addition to meeting with doctors, they also plan to educate the community about alternatives to opioids for pain relief, which, they said, include:

Eventually, McCormack said, they hope to involve local acupuncturists, massage therapists and yoga instructors in the initiative, and to create signage in doctors’ offices, social media posts and billboards to get the message out.

“Our idea is that everyone can help people from becoming addicted,” McCormack said. “Everyone can be part of the solution and prevent more addiction.”