A local organization is exploring substance use disorder and teaching people how to fight against it with “Clearing the Confusion,” a new 10-week series.
The series will be hosted by Truth Pharm, a nonprofit organization that was founded in February 2015 by Alexis Pleus and located at 42 Chenango St. The organization aims to raise awareness, reduce stigma, educate the public and advocate for policy change to reduce the harms caused by substance use, according to their website.
Truth Pharm recently developed the series to support families impacted by substance use disorder and to educate the public about the mysteries associated with it. Some of the topics this series aims to cover include recognizing signs and symptoms of substance use, learning about the science of addiction and about the types of treatment that are available.
According to the Facebook page for “Clearing the Confusion,” the sessions are designed to be flexible so individuals can pick and choose which ones they want to attend. Sessions are held in the Voices Recovery Center, located at 340 Prospect St., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday until April 14.
Louisa Holmes, an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Binghamton University, said she considers health education important in communities, noting that programming like “Clearing the Confusion” plays a crucial role in public health efforts.
“Health education is important for a host of reasons, including making people aware of their own risk potential, making people aware of accessible health services that may be available in their communities and destigmatizing diseases, such as addiction or mental illness,” Holmes wrote in an email.
According to New York’s 2019 Opioid Annual Report, Broome County scored in the highest quartile for opioid burden in 2017. The report includes instances of hospital discharges for nonfatal opioid overdose, abuse, dependence and opioid overdose deaths. Opioids are a class of drugs that work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including pain relief, and are extremely addictive. Some of the most commonly used opioids are prescriptions, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl.
Community-based harm reduction services have led to a reduction in morbidity and mortality in Broome County. Some of these services include syringe exchange programs (SEPs) that train people in the community to recognize overdose risks.
Truth Pharm also holds weekly recovery meetings where participants help one another resolve problems with any form of addiction, including drugs, alcohol, gambling or overeating. The meetings are held every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. until May 27 and are led by two Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) facilitators at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located at 1 Church St.
Holmes said she appreciates attempts being made by Truth Pharm to solve the local issue.
“I particularly appreciate attempts to destigmatize substance use disorders and recognize them for what they are — chronic disease,” Holmes wrote. “Addiction has well-established biological and genetic components, just like heart disease and cancer, and should be insured and approached in [a] similar fashion.”