BRISTOL - Wheeler clinic has received a grant to address and prevent prescription and illegal opioid misuse among adolescent girls.
The grant, which provides $100,000 a year for three years, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health to support the Connecticut Opioid Misuse Prevention Initiative.
Grants have been awarded to 16 cooperative agreements to public and private nonprofit entities across the nation.
The grant will be used to expand and provide online and in-person training by the Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment approach, for up to 4,500 prevention professionals, pediatric care primary providers and professionals who work or volunteer with adolescent girls.
“We know the rate of opioid use among girls and women is increasing at a faster rate than their male counterparts,” Judith Stonger, vice president of prevention, wellness and recovery at Wheeler. “The training is meant for a broad base of professionals and for anyone who works with adolescents.”
There are 1,500 professionals and volunteers that will receive in-person training, and 3,000 that will be trained online.
“We will use a variety of trainers and locations for in-person training,” Stonger said. “The grant officially was received Aug. 1, so we are still in the startup phase and hope to offer in-person training in a month, but, online training is available now through Kognito.”
The online training is an “avatar-based program” where individuals works through simulations of adolescents to practice various reactions, explained Stonger, adding that there is an “avatar-based instructor,” which is a computerized instructor that provides recommendations and instructions.
“The avatar coach will help and provide skill building advice,” Stonger said.
The program was recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics because of the initiative's flexibility in working with adolescents from various substance-misuse spectrums. It provides a brief screening, intervention and referral to treatment tailored to the specific needs of the given adolescent.
The initiative and training builds a successful and ongoing collaboration between Wheeler and the Connecticut Department and Families, Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Connecticut Prevention Network to promote early identification and intervention of mental health and substance abuse disorder.
“Research shows that women are especially vulnerable to opioid addiction. We want to reach out to as broad of an audience as possible, because it’s important to intervene as early as possible,” Stonger said. “The more people and professionals that are engaged, the better chance there is of treating at an early stage.”
A press release from Wheeler clinic stated that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers increased 218 percent in men, while for women it increased over 471 percent. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among men increased 50 percent, compared to 100 percent in women.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at email@example.com.