United in Opioid Addiction Awareness

By Ciarese De Torres

According to the U.S. Department of Health Human Services (HHS), the timeline of the opioid epidemic that has been plaguing the nation stems back to the nineties, when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that patients would not be addicted to opioids.

As a result, the opioid prescriptions increased over time. This led to widespread misuse of prescription and non-prescription opioids as it became prevalent that the medications were highly addictive.

Since 2017, HHS declared this a public health emergency and has issued out plans to combat the epidemic.

In response, NDMU’s Art Therapy School, School of Pharmacy and the School of Nursing worked together to form three events for the purpose of raising awareness on the opioid addiction.

The first event was the reception of an art exhibition in Gormley Gallery at Fourier that was titled “Into Light.”

As a way to cope with her pain and connect with people who have this similar kind of loss, artist Theresa Clower was inspired to document a tribute to her son and many of those that have died from opioid overdose.

She sketched graphite portraits of over 40 Marylanders who have lost their lives from drug addiction. Under each portrait, she included a brief description of the subject as well as the date of their birth and death.

While the gallery provided a platform for recognition and conversation about drug addiction, the exhibition “is really about elevating through art, those we have loved and lost through art,” Clower said.

Rather than focusing on the dark ends to opioid addiction, the gallery brings lost lives into light.

The second event was an open discussion panel titled “The Opioid Crisis and Paths to Healing: A Panel Discussion on Drug Addiction.” Moderated by senior psychology major Alexis Morgan, the panel consisted of a diverse group of women with various backgrounds, all of which are connected to the opioid epidemic.

The speakers at the event were Katie Bowers, Assistant Professor of Nursing; Dr. Andrea Gauld, the Associate Professor of Pharmacy; Kelly Gill, the Co-Founder of Love In The Trenches and Dr. Maria Mouratidis, Professor and Chair of Psychology.

The main topics during discussion included the root causes of the opioid crisis; the challenges faced by individuals, healthcare providers and families; and paths to healing for those living with addiction.

The third event was a free Naloxone training session provided and instructed by the School of Pharmacy’s Faculty Overdose Response Program Team. Once they reserved a spot for the session, students learned more about the importance of Nalaxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdose, and how to properly administer the drug to potentially save lives.

Due to the efforts and collaboration of NDMU’s School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and School of Art Therapy, the rising impact of opioid addiction has felt closer and more personal.

Professor Jennifer Wester, director of the Gormley Gallery identified with these feelings,“ Opioid addiction is an issue that really touches everyone and the need for awareness and education aligns well with the Mission of NDMU to promote social justice, social responsibility and being a catalyst for change, where it is needed in our community,” she said.

opiod pic 1
Community members write positive words during the “Into Light” exhibition. This was one of three events held to combat the opioid crisis.

Photo Courtesy by Ciarese De Torres

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