On Wednesday, April 10th, Dr. Gina Dahlem, Clinical Associate Professor at University of Michigan School of Nursing, brought the Take A.C.T.I.O.N. Naloxone In-Person Training to Community High School, where a group of students grades 9-12 gathered together to learn about the importance of carrying naloxone.

Students discussed a variety of topics, including how the drug epidemic has changed over the years, different kinds of opioids, how to correctly use naloxone, and the acronym A.C.T.I.O.N. (Arouse the person, Check for signs of an overdose, Telephone 911, Intranasal/Intramuscular naloxone, Oxygen, Naloxone again). “The training went incredibly well. I was grateful to share with an engaged group of teens who were ready to learn, asked thoughtful questions, and gave up a beautiful afternoon to attend the session,” stated Dr. Dahlem.

Students who attended this optional training were exceptionally engaged with the material, and many came in with prior knowledge of what naloxone is and where they can find it within Washtenaw County. One student commented during the training that “I was at the pharmacy and saw Naloxone behind the counter and I thought that was so cool to see.” Another student told attendees that he traveled with his naloxone and carried it through the airport and on his vacation.

To Becky Brent, a Health and Wellness and Interpersonal Communications and Speech teacher at Community High School, this level of engagement wasn’t surprising. “Teenagers want to be included in these conversations; they are extremely driven. Their engagement doesn’t shock me because they want to talk about it with adults,” said Brent. It was clear this group of students were serious about learning, and Dr. Dahlem commented that this group showed exceptional interest in learning about this topic. “Teens want to have these conversations. They want to learn and they want to be advocates for change, to not guide them down this road is a disservice,” added Brent.

After the training concluded, conversation between the students, Dahlem, and Brent sparked new ways to continue bringing these trainings to teens. One idea included creating a teen board who would become certified to teach the naloxone training to other teens. Other conversations included combining the Take A.C.T.I.O.N. training with a performance of Painless: The Opioid MusicalPainless shares the perspective of the individuals in a way that textbooks can’t do. When we couple [the musical] with overdose training and discuss how serious it can be, it will create a remarkable impact. It will help students understand the scale of the conversation,” stated Brent.

Going forward, we hope this training continues to start conversations with a new generation of advocates and continues to be present in high school settings. “I wish more schools would do this. If all it takes is parent permission, then let’s start opening those doors. I hope we continue to shatter stigma by sharing facts and motivating people to move in a better direction for themselves,” ended Brent.

OPEN is currently working on ways to continue bringing the Take A.C.T.I.O.N. training to high schools, as well as preparing for a May tour of Painless: The Opioid Musical.