LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) put out a call earlier this month for parents and guardians of children of all ages to test their new free online opioid education course. The organization is seeking feedback on how this resource can be improved before its official launch in February 2019.

There are now over 100 deaths per day in the U.S. from unintentional drug overdose and the opioid epidemic has been declared a national Public Health Emergency. The SMCHD designed and funded this course as part of the local response to the larger crisis.

The course consists of six modules:

  • Understanding teen drug use and addiction
  • Prevention conversations (for children of all ages)
  • Preventing teen drug use: spot warning signs
  • What to do if you think your child is using drugs
  • Navigating treatment & recovery
  • Responding to overdose

Each module corresponds to a response goal, which include preventing new cases of opioid misuse, improving early identification and intervention, and expanding access to services that promote recovery and prevent disease progression/death.

“Letting our community know how to prevent and address youth drug use is incredibly important in addressing our current drug epidemic,” said St. Mary’s County Health Officer, Dr. Meena Brewster. “This course helps parents and guardians understand the disease of substance use better. It also provides tools to help reduce the risk of their child developing an addiction or to improve the outcome for a child who may already be affected.”

The course is self-paced, free, and available online. The design allows participants to jump between modules and sub-sections as they like, so they can quickly access the ones most relevant to their circumstances. The SMCHD plans to officially launch the course in February 2019 and is currently seeking feedback from parents on how to improve the material and the overall course experience. Parents and guardians who want to participate and share their thoughts can visit: https://tinyurl.com/ParentOpioidCourse or www.smchd.org/opioid.