The faces of our nation’s opioid crisis are familiar ones. They are family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. They are someone you know.

Someone like Michael, a father and a veteran who is one of the 23 million people in the country living in recovery and is passionate about sharing his message of resilience with incarcerated individuals and high school students.

Or someone like Lisa K., a mother, artist, and advocate who works at the Storefront in Kensington — a Philadelphia neighborhood at the epicenter of the nation’s opioid crisis — to help provide a safe, welcoming space for people struggling with opioid use disorder to express their emotions through art.

Through our Foundation’s Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) initiative, we awarded more than $1 million to fight the opioid epidemic through a strategic approach, regional partnerships, and grant making. We will continue to convene organizations from across the public and private sectors to remove the stigma of opioid use disorder, raise awareness, and eliminate barriers to recovery.

Our partnership [with the Foundation] has deepened beyond the grantor/grantee relationship. It is the Foundation’s comprehensive approach that we find to be truly thoughtful and one that complements well what Caron strives to do in the greater Philadelphia region, too.

Seán Lavelle
Regional Vice President, Caron Treatment Centers in Philadelphia

Our Foundation launched its first multimedia public health awareness campaign in 2018 — “Someone You Know” — to address the stigma associated with opioid use disorder, which often prevents people from seeking treatment and support services.

“Someone You Know” shares inspiring stories of southeastern Pennsylvania residents who have found a life in recovery, supported a loved one with opioid use disorder, or sadly lost a loved one to addiction.

These stories are available on the “Someone You Know” website, our YouTube channel, and embedded in our interactive mobile exhibit. Every story humanizes the disease of addiction. They are helping people see themselves in others, so they realize there is hope, help, and that recovery is possible.

The featured stories also serve as a cornerstone for our regional conversations in partnership with Penn State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. These gatherings give people a safe space to talk openly about their experiences with addiction, listen to the stories of others, and discuss solution-based practices to reduce stigma and prevent barriers to recovery.

We are expanding the reach of this grassroots effort by adding new personal stories of individuals affected by the opioid crisis and have launched a podcast featuring intimate conversations with “Someone You Know” campaign participants.

The mobile listening stations will travel to college campuses, sporting venues, and community events to encourage people to join the movement by continuing these important conversations in their communities.

Sharing Strategies for Education, Intervention, and Treatment

As part of the campaign, our Foundation hosted its largest national conference to date in 2018 — “Someone You Know”: Facing the Opioid Crisis Together — to address the stigma of addiction and share strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities affected.

Welcoming 600 attendees, the conference featured prominent national and regional public health and civic leaders, including U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., along with people in active recovery or supporting someone’s journey to explore best practices for education, intervention, and treatment.

One edition of our Foundation’s award-winning Journal of Change focused on the opioid crisis to illustrate the progress being made and to inspire people to change the conversation and become advocates.

The Foundation’s pioneering STOP initiative and “Someone You Know” campaign have been game changers when it comes to destigmatizing the disease of addiction. Together we are transforming lives, one child at a time.

Mary K. Fitzgerald
Chief Executive Officer, Eluna Network

Expanding Youth Prevention and Intervention

With children and young adults today at a greater risk for developing opioid or substance use disorders, education remains key for prevention.

Through STOP grants totaling nearly $650,000 in 2018, we’re supporting the work of community-based organizations to provide prevention, education, and treatment for individuals and families.

Our Foundation awarded the largest grant to date to Caron Treatment Centers (Caron) to expand their substance use disorder education and prevention initiatives throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

A respected national addiction and behavioral health care provider, Caron is using this funding to expand programs that focus on youth intervention efforts, support families with a loved one struggling from the disease of addiction, and increase access to opioid education and prevention programming in local schools for parents and students.

There is currently no universal screening process to identify students who have or are at-risk for substance use disorder. To close this gap, Caron has facilitated Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training for school nurses and other school-based professionals and community-based professionals who work with children.

SBIRT is an evidence-based approach and one of the best tools available to help professionals recognize the signs of substance use and provide the appropriate level of intervention and resources.

Using our Foundation grant, Caron has been able to provide SBIRT training to more than 200 professionals serving more than 2,000 students in the greater Philadelphia region to date.

The Foundation listens to their partners, keeps moving forward, allows creativity, and brings together others who can share best practices and determine what our city needs for improved health.

Susan Post
Executive Director, Esperanza Health Center

Ensuring the Success of Warm Handoff Programs

For people with substance use disorder to take their first steps on the path to recovery, it’s critical for them to have support at the time they need it most and are the most receptive to receiving it.

Although every county in Pennsylvania is mandated to implement emergency room-based “warm handoff” programs to immediately refer drug overdose survivors to treatment programs, implementation and program success rates vary from county to county.

Our Foundation initiated a study in 2018 to examine the utilization, design, and effectiveness of warm handoff programs in our region, using the Bucks-County-Connect-Assess-Refer-Engage-Support (B-CARES) program as the basis for the evaluation.

Through the B-CARES model, emergency department physicians at six Bucks County hospitals can connect overdose survivors with Certified Recovery Specialists, who match them to the appropriate treatment options.

The results of this groundbreaking study determined that increasing access to Certified Recovery Specialists, providing additional training for emergency department staff, and making better use of available electronic health records are among the best practices for warm handoff programs to ensure successful patient outcomes.

Supporting Families and Increasing Professional Training

The opioid crisis continues to challenge and change families, with an increase in “second families” where grandparents are taking on the social and financial responsibilities for raising their grandchildren.

A future focus of our STOP initiative will be to support programs that provide resources for families, particularly family members caring for children whose parents are unable to care for them.

Our Foundation will continue to support training for nurses and other health care professionals to help reduce stigma associated with substance use disorder, and improve care coordination for those who need treatment.

We encourage people to join the movement by continuing the conversation in their community.

Together, we can change the narrative surrounding opioid use disorder and break down barriers to recovery.