Grow the Good

Through the Community-based Opioid Prevention and Education (C.O.P.E.) Project, Extension, public health agencies and Tribal nations, and other organizations partner with individuals, families, and communities to build upon existing community strengths. Working collaboratively, the team creates resources specific to each community and grounded in mutual respect and healing. The goal of this collective work is to develop meaningful relationships that result in sustainable recovery communities. The American Indian Resource and Resiliency team co-creates culturally responsive holistic health education and resources to address substance use disorders  in Native communities.

The following examples from our partners are intended as stories of hope and points of inspiration for future projects to support recovery from substance use.

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Harm Reduction and Medication Assisted Treatment in Indigenous communities

A Native elder outside, her arms adorned with turquoise bracelets.

Harm Reduction and Medication Assisted Treatment in Indigenous communities, A panel discussion with members of the National American Indian and Alaska Native ATTC and the Minneapolis Indian Health Board

People who rely on harm reduction methods and Medication Assisted Treatment as part of their recovery from substance use disorder often face prejudice and stigma for their decision, including in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Minimizing stigma is about maximizing understanding. A complete understanding about the forms and benefits of harm reduction in an American Indian/Alaska Native community setting could help reduce stigma around harm reduction practices, strengthen relationships between elders and community members who desire a connection with their culture, and ultimately save lives.

Presenter(s): Elder June Blue; Heather Benjamin, Indian Health Board's (IHB) Community Opioid Intervention and Prevention Health Educator; Dr. Dan Dickerson, addiction psychiatrist and researcher; and Jim Wikel, PSS.

Content themes: Harm reduction in indigenous communities (including medication assisted treatment).

Resources shared: American Indian Alaska Native Addressing Addiction Vol 8 Issue 1 Winter 2022: The focus of this issue from the National American Indian and Alaska Native Addiction Technology Transfer Center is harm reduction in the context of American Indian communities.

Native Center for Behavioral Health, Adult and Youth programs

A Native woman holds her young daughter, both are smiling.

Native Center for Behavioral Health, Adult and Youth programs

The Native Center for Behavioral Health provides education, develops resources, and completes research centered around American Indian and Alaska Native children and families. Both national and regional Technology Transfer Centers also exist to support work on specific subject areas including addiction, mental health, prevention and tribal opioid use. 

Presenter(s): Teresa Brewington, MBA, MEd, member of the Coharie Tribe and descendent from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Co-director, TSA, Program Director, K-12 Grant; and Dr. C. Allison Baez, Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation-Aguateca Paguame Clan, Program Manager, K-12 School Supplement, National American Indian and Alaska Native MHTTC.

Content themes: Work done by the Native Center for Behavioral Health.

Resources Shared:

Upstander Behavior: Being More Than a Bystander

College students laughing

Upstander Behavior: Being More Than a Bystander

Upstander Intervention Training builds knowledge and skills to help students support their peers in unexpected and potentially harmful situations. Adapted from the Step Up! Bystander Intervention Training, this curriculum educates students on how to safely address many situations in a manner that is safe, early, effective and kind with the appropriate technique (such as direct, delegate or distract).

Presenter(s): Laura Bennett, CPPR, Regional Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator: Northeast MN Region 2: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St Louis counties.

Content themes: Upstander Intervention Training, intervening, training

Resources Shared:

Harm Reduction Efforts in Minnesota

People in a meeting with a hand on shoulder in sign of support.

Harm Reduction Efforts in Minnesota

Harm Reduction Sisters is an organization based in Duluth, MN that provides supplies such as clean syringes, naloxone, fentanyl test strips and more to minimize the harm associated with substance use. Operating out of Northern Minnesota, Harm Reduction Sisters works to reduce the risk of overdose and infectious disease transmission among people who use drugs by providing support and identifying action steps to continue and expand prevention efforts.

Presenter: Sue Purchase, Founder and Director of Harm Reduction Sisters.

Content themes: Harm reduction, specific organization actions.

Resources Shared:

Minnesota Student Survey

A diverse group of high school students laughing.

Minnesota Student Survey

Young people in Minnesota take the Minnesota Student Survey every three years. This survey operates through a collaboration between several state agencies and measures factors related to mental health and substance use. In Northern Minnesota counties, 2019 results showed an overall increase in mental health challenges (such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts) from the previous survey but a higher rate of mental health challenges in female students. Protective factors such as a feeling of care from adults, teachers, and friends or involvement in an activity was associated with lower levels of suicidal thoughts, inappropriate prescription drug use and marijuana use.

Presenter: Jacquelyne Freund, Minnesota State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW).

Content themes: Minnesota student survey (mental health/protective factors).

Resources Shared:

The Association of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Youth Mental Health

Elementary school students work at a table in a classroom.

The Association of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Youth Mental Health

Students who have adverse childhood experiences (ACES) may have difficulty regulating their reactions and demonstrating skills in school. In fact, research shows that repeated stressful experiences can wire the brain to respond in a “fight, flight, or freeze” manner to situations that are not a threat. Teachers and schools can help minimize the effect of ACES by ensuring the student has multiple positive experiences through “positive relationships” with students and a school system ready to respond to a child who is struggling.

Presenter: Dr. Mark Sander, PsyD, Senior Clinical Psychologist for Hennepin County and the Director of School Mental Health for Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Content themes: Adverse Childhood Experiences

Resources Shared:

Compassionate Responses to Family Addiction

Dad and son in a serious conversation.

Compassionate Responses to Family Addiction: Small Changes, Big Results 
4-part workshop including Changing Families, Changing Outcomes

Communicating both compassionately and effectively with someone in recovery can be challenging. In this four part workshop from Thrive Family Support, attendees learn how to move through difficult or uncomfortable situations and help family or community members on the path to recovery. 

Presenter(s): Pam Lanhart and Laurie Healy, Thrive Family Support.

Content themes: Communication, family addiction.

Resources Shared:

Healthy Steps to Freedom Curriculum

A group of women working outside.

Healthy Steps to Freedom Curriculum, (Part of the Healthy Living, Sustainable Recovery Program)

Healthy Steps to Freedom curriculum provides a  gender-responsive method to support recovery from substance use disorder. Gender-responsive treatment focuses on elements of substance use that are specific to people of a certain gender. Healthy Steps to Freedom addresses aspects of substance use that are more relevant to women including body weight, nutrition and body image. This program is specifically designed to help women in correctional facilities move forward in recovery from substance use. 

Presenter: Anne R. Lindsay, PhD, FACSM professor & Extension specialist, University of Nevada Reno.

Content themes: Women, health, nutrition.

Resources Shared:

Pregnancy and Recovery

A group of pregnant women in a support group.

Pregnancy and Recovery

“Wayside Recovery Center has become an expert in delivering gender-specific and trauma-informed substance use disorder treatment and mental health services for women and their families. They provide a holistic array of care including outpatient and residential substance use disorder treatment, recovery support services, adult and children’s mental health therapy, long-term supportive housing, and family support services. Their vision is that all women, children, and families achieve healing and hope for their future free from the effects of addiction and trauma.” -excerpt from Wayside Recovery Website

Presenter: Nicole Fernandez, Maternal Child Health Community Liaison/Project Manager, Wayside Recovery Center.

Content themes: Women, pregnancy, addiction.

Resources Shared:

  • Wayside Referral: Resource for providers to refer a patient to Wayside Recovery Center.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

A doctor talking to an older person intently.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

Health care providers can use the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) method to assess a patient's level of dependency on alcohol or other substances and respond in a way that will help the person limit or stop substance use. Using motivational interviewing techniques to follow up with a patient about their level of alcohol or substance use has proven effective in reducing use. For patients with greater levels of dependence on a substance, the provider may refer them to treatment. Organizations interested in learning more can take a course from the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center.

Presenter(s): Laura Saunders, State Program Manager, Wisconsin and Sherrie Nichols, Program Manager, Minnesota.

Content themes: Intervention, evidence-based practice.

Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

A man stands speaking to a group of people in a circle, they look engaged.

Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

Recovery-oriented systems of care build on pre-existing community “strengths” and resources to create an environment supportive of recovery where people with substance use disorder can engage with the programs and tools necessary to move forward in recovery. This type of system emphasizes substance use prevention and the development of recovery capital in a community. Community work and education completed by organizations like the Peer REcovery Center of Excellence and the Minnesota Recovery Connection help to support and develop recovery-oriented systems of care.

Presenter: Kris Kelly, Project Manager, Peer Recovery Center of Excellence.

Content themes: Intervention, evidence-based practice.

Resources Shared:

Making a Change

A plate of fish tacos with colorful vegetables.

Making a Change 

This past summer, Aitkin County Sobriety Court participants in recovery from substance use had the opportunity to learn more about nutritious cooking and smart money management through the “Making a Change” pilot program. During a twelve week course, residents in recovery attended classes on Zoom where they learned how to make healthy dishes like chicken Caesar salad, turkey chili, and fish tacos while discussing important topics like toxic stress, mindfulness, and resilience. Participants also took an eight week, in-person course to gain insight into smart financial management and planning. Throughout the weekly classes, they learned valuable tips about saving and spending money, protecting themselves from identity theft, and guarding their information with strong passwords. 

The program provided more than cooking and finance skills: it provided a community. One participant reflected on the class, saying, “It was what I looked forward to weekly not only for the information and the knowledge, but also to get me out of the house interacting with the instructors and fellow recovery people.” At the end of the program, all participants said they would recommend it to others. Another round of the program is in development for fall 2022. 

Learn more about nutrition in recovery.

 

Creating Passions

Painting of a rabbit in a space helmet guiding a canoe

Creating Passions 

On March 20th, 2022, community members joined artist Jon Thunder for an afternoon of guided art therapy. The event, which took place at the Mille Lacs Casino, provided a space to heal unresolved grief, loss, and trauma. With instruction from Thunder, every participant painted their own version of a rabbit in a canoe. Extension educators helped support the event and shared a Mind Body presentation. Harm reduction supplies and resources about recovery from substance use disorder, such as nutrition, prevention through culture, or healing/coping, were also available for participants. With a turn-out of over 40 people, the program was well-attended and enjoyed by the community.

Nutrition in Recovery

Bowls of healthy foods like berries, quinoa, nuts, avocado and peppers.

Nutrition in Recovery

Supportive and healing nutrition therapy is a unique need for people during treatment and long term recovery due to the physical damage substance use disorders (SUD) can cause. Nutrition plays a key role in sustaining recovery, and research shows that nutritional care, in addition to social support, connection and sleep, can prevent people from progressing through emotional, mental, and physical vulnerabilities and setbacks that lead to eventual recurrence of use. Nutrition care teams can support individuals in a clinical setting, but support and education can also be provided in sobriety/treatment court programs, sober living homes and outpatient programs. When people in recovery receive support through all levels of care and have awareness of the importance of nutrition and self-care, engagement and recovery outcomes will improve. 

Presenter: David A. Wiss, Founder of Nutrition In Recovery and Wise Mind Nutrition

Content themes: Nutrition, health, recovery

Resources shared:

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