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C26. Opioids and our Community. Stop the Stigma. Save a Life. Collaboration to Educate University Campus Students to Identify and Intervene for an Opioid Overdose

C26. Opioids and our Community. Stop the Stigma. Save a Life. Collaboration to Educate University Campus Students to Identify and Intervene for an Opioid Overdose

Learner category:

  • Novice Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will be able to state three barriers for implementing harm reduction and intranasal naloxone training on a university campus
  • Participants will be able to describe three strategies that university administration can incorporate to improve outcomes for individuals with a substance use disorder


Problem: Young adults between the ages of 18-25 are at an increased risk for opioid misuse. Stigma and misunderstanding campus policies have been shown to be barriers to disclosure of substance use and substance use disorder (SUD). Evidence Appraisal: There has been a rise in the use of opiates, cross contamination of non-opioid drugs with fentanyl, and unintended opioid overdoses among college students. There is an increased need to educate students about prevention, recognition, and treatment for opioid overdose. Implementation Strategies: The physiology of addiction, impact of stigma, recovery focused language, recognizing an opioid overdose, administration of intranasal naloxone, harm reduction, and campus and community resources were presented by nurses, campus police, and community members. Targeted groups included residential assistants, and sorority and fraternity leaders. Attendees were provided with campus and community resources in the form of refrigerator magnets, wallet cards, and handouts. Evaluation: Students reported an appreciation and need for the information but voiced concern regarding a campus policy that appeared to be in conflict with information provided. Presenters worked with administration to revise the medical amnesty policy to revise language that was being misinterpreted by students. There was an increase in the number of students requesting the presentation for their dormitory floor, sorority or fraternity. Lessons Learned: Focus groups should be held in advance with key stakeholder students to understand barriers and facilitators to implementing the presentation strategies. Acting as a liaison between students and residential directors and administration was critical to allow for open communication and understanding.


Kimberly Dion
PhD, RN, CNE, CARN University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing

Kimberly Dion PhD, RN, CNE, CARN is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing. Her research focuses on persons with a substance use disorder, a population she has worked with for 20 years. She is a harm reductionist and certified naloxone train the trainer for Massachusetts. She performs educational sessions on reducing stigma toward those with substance use disorder, harm reduction practice, and recognition of an opioid overdose.

Ann Becker
DNP, RN, University of Massachusetts University Health Services

Ann Becker, DNP, RN, is the Public Health Nurse for the University Health Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Cherry Sullivan
MPH, City of Northampton Health Department

Cherry Sullivan, MPH is the Program Coordinator for Hampshire HOPE through the Center for Prevention and Community Engagement for the City of Northampton Health Department

Comments (5)

  1. Lauren Carpenter, RN, CARN

    Wonderful presentation! This is such an important population to educate and prepare for living in a state with such high rate of overdoses resulting in death. Have these trainings sparked any discussion relating to changing policies and allowing students to put people in the recovery position? Or having the resident assistants being CPR certified? Thank you for the presentation!

    1. Kimberly Dion

      Hi Lauren,
      Great questions! We were doing these presentations last fall and then COVID hit. There has been discussion about the residence assistants (RAs) being able to put the person in a recovery position. One of the biggest barriers we came across was that the RAs are unionized and therefore, limited in what they can do while “on the job”. We were working toward the RAs being CPR trained on their own time because if they were, when they called 911, if instructed by the dispatcher and they were trained to do so, the RA could begin CPR. This is where we are in the process.

  2. Rachel Shuster, BSN, RN, CARN, CAAP

    Great presentation. Thank you!
    I see an opportunity at this university to advocate for policy change — maybe a change to their policy to mirror Good Samaritan laws in the area would be a good place to start. Even with this, fear remains and will ultimately drive people towards not seeking help.
    I appreciate your ongoing work with this university!

    1. Kimberly Dion

      Thanks, Rachel. You are right that it is a barrier and fear drives people to not call. We have a group that was put together to work with administration on these issues. There was some movement in the policy called Minutes Matters that clarified and strengthened language that students would not be disciplined for making the call for their peer regardless of what was being used for drugs.

  3. Virginia Singer

    Thank you

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