Health Council: Opioid abuse, child behavior updates given

By COLBY DENTON

Posted 11/29/17

The topics of opioid abuse and of child behavior played integral discussion roles in the Bradley County Health Council's meeting on Tuesday. Opioid abuse was noted as a serious issue, as 1 …

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Health Council: Opioid abuse, child behavior updates given

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The topics of opioid abuse and of child behavior played integral discussion roles in the Bradley County Health Council's meeting on Tuesday. 

Opioid abuse was noted as a serious issue, as 1 in 5 high-schoolers recently reported using prescription drugs one or more times in their lifetime without a doctor's prescription. 

Camilla Bibbs-Lee, executive director of the Hamilton County Coalition, said her organization is working to get at the root of the problem of opioid abuse. 

"A lot of agencies see the same families come in over and over, so we see quite a bit of repeat overdoses," Bibbs-Lee stated. 

In 2015, some 1,451 Tennesseans died from opioid overdose.

According to Bibbs-Lee, 2017's numbers will likely be higher. She believes  the roots of the problem are education and stigma. 

"There truly is a stigma around addiction, which is why we've seen so many citizens coming out of the shadows to get help," she added. "We want to reduce the dangers by seeking more alternative methods of treatment." 

Bibbs-Lee said her organization is working to provide bottles of Narcan, the opioid antidote, to companies around the region. Police departments are also getting this antidote, as some officers may accidentally overdose by breathing in specific, airborne particles in contaminated areas. 

Rebecca Brnik, the program coordinator with the Regional Intervention Program, was keynote speaker. 

"Our passion is to help families who have children ages 2 to 6, so we have a small window to work with," Brnik said. 

Founded at Vanderbilt University in 1969, RIP is a free, positive-behavior management program empowering parents to improve their parenting skills and shape their children's problem behaviors. 

Some of the varying reasons parents come to RIP are aggression, sleeping issues, destruction of property, non-compliance, mealtime problems, separation anxiety, tantrums, trouble at school and running from adults. 

Parents are an essential piece of the puzzle with RIP, as parents must be actively involved in order for the program to work. 

"RIP has two phases, which are called active and payback. Active involves both parent and child listening and learning, while payback involves implementing what has been taught," Brnik stated. 

Children participate in stories, songs, arts and crafts, snacks, group activities, games, reading and puzzles. Parents undergo DVD and classroom training, so they are improving alongside their children. 

RIP sessions occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

Linda Avila with the Bradley County Health Department gave an update on tobacco in Cleveland,. She said  the stress of the holidays can make it difficult to quit smoking.

Also during the meeting,  Justin Thomas and Tamara Yelton were elected as 2018 chair and co-chair of the Council, respectively.

The Bradley County Health Council is a coalition of community organizations, schools and individuals striving to develop an environment that supports a healthy life through education, prevention, advocacy and services. 


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