Colorado Funds Community Opioid Response
(August 7, 2019)
Colorado State is training communal extension agents to give opioid education to rural areas, reports The Colorado Sun. A $1.4 million program from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture lets CSU ready five extension agents to reach isolated towns where few opioid resources available. These agents plan to form family-based preventive groups and community alliances for drug abuse prevention. Their training includes the Strengthening Families Program, a seven-week course that helps families improve their children’s drug refusal skills. Iowa State University developed the acclaimed curriculum to prepare rural opioid effectiveness.
But the use of communal extension agents to educate these towns is Colorado’s novel approach. They’ve already worked in their communities to provide farming and safety workshops, and the CSU programs means to capitalize on their familiarity. J. Douglas Coatsworth, who oversees the program, prefers the local extension agents because the towns already trust them. “I’m an expert on this issue but who’s going to listen to me if I parachute into town and tell people that I want to talk about drugs in their community? I’m not going to get much of a response. But…these other agents are well-known and well-liked so they can be a lot more effective,” he said.
So far, the agents meet with their communities in local schools and churches in La Junta and Fort Morgan. CSU plans to expand the outreach programs into Sterling in the fall, and also to create programs in western Colorado.