MARTI Launches IUP Opioid Prevention Project

Posted on 1/21/2020 11:49:48 AM

Thanks to a Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs grant to professor Erick Lauber (Journalism and Public Relations) and Ann Sesti (Director of  Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Program at IUP), the Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute for Community and Behavioral Health is launching the IUP Opioid Prevention Project.

The project will target students, faculty, and staff at the IUP campus and include a media campaign, workshops, outreach events, and research on the effectiveness of both.

Outreach activities coordinated by Ann Sesti from the IUP Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Program will include new seminars offered by the student peer educators trained by the Center for Health and Well-Being. A speaker series on addiction will also occur as well as Narcan (naxalone) training for all campus personnel. Screenings will also be offered at student events and new materials from the Generation Rx curriculum will be taught.

MARTI has prepared a “#ProtectYourBrain” campaign to inform IUP about the dangers of exposing your brain to mood-altering and mind-altering chemicals, such as drugs, alcohol, and particularly opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain medicines. Over the next few months, various media will be released to educate all IUP audiences about the dangers of opioids and encourage the choice of living a drug-free life.

Instead of using fear tactics, which research shows is not effective, MARTI will be using a more light-hearted and thought-provoking approach. A central theme will be to encourage the audience to consider the long-term impact of drugs and alcohol on their brain. Repeated exposure to mood-altering and mind-altering substances creates brain changes—they are brain-changers. By painting a picture of a successful and drug-free future, participants will be confronted by how their current choices are changing their brains. MARTI will ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A follow-up tag line will be: #ProtectYourBrain. You will need it when you grow up!

The #ProtectYourBrain campaign will use traditional media, such as the Penn, IUP-TV and WIUP-FM, but will also leverage new media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and similar social media. Messages will also be displayed around campus, and MARTI will sponsor campus events such as a movie night and the annual International Overdose Awareness Day.