Halting Opioid Abuse through Prevention and Education (Athens HOPE) is a community group founded in 2017 to aid in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The group is committed to preventing opioid abuse by educating children, parents and college students about the realities of opioid addiction and encouraging treatment by reducing the stigma surrounding addiction.
Founded through a university/community partnership between the Athens City-Council Health Department, Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions and OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital, the group now encompasses a number of area educators, health professionals and local leaders.
Athens HOPE is working to raise awareness of the following facts:
1) Opioid prescription painkillers are addictive
Chemically, there's little difference between heroin and the drugs used in painkillers
More than four in ten Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers
2) Prescription painkiller addiction can lead to heroin addiction
Nearly 80% of people addicted to heroin started with prescription drug abuse
3) Drug addiction is a medical issue
Addiction is a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a compulsive drive toward compulsive behavior.
4) Drug addiction doesn't discriminate - it can happen to anyone
Heroin use has increased over the past ten years among almost every demographic group. From 2002 to 2013, there was a 60% increase in heroin use among groups making $50,000 or more per year, a 77% increase in groups earning $20,000 - $49,900, and a 62% increase among those groups making less than $20,000 per year.
5) People struggling with addiction are worth saving - there is hope for recovery
The chance of relapse after five years of abstinence from substance abuse is only 14%.