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Rhode Island Launches Campaign to Prevent Opioid Addiction; State Collaborated with Truth Initiative on National, Research-Informed Effort Targeting Youth

The Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force announced today a local launch of a multi-channel, public prevention and education campaign called The Truth About Opioids. Using research partially conducted in Rhode Island, and created by Truth Initiative®, the campaign launched nationally last week, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council. The comprehensive campaign aims to prevent and reduce misuse of opioids among youth and young adults. The first wave of ads, which feature true stories of young Americans with opioid use disorder, will begin running in Rhode Island through an extensive, state-specific media buy later this month.

The ads can be viewed at: Amy's story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tXPFJ6WbM [youtube.com] Chris's story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOkuM8_SMN8 [youtube.com] Kyle's story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E__3hlpVqn0 [youtube.com] Joe's story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMIQn8sFROo

Under the leadership of Governor Gina Raimondo and her Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) partnered with Truth Initiative® on the campaign research and a robust, local implementation of the nationwide campaign.

"The opioid epidemic continues to be our most urgent public health crisis. The proliferation of these narcotics has had a devastating impact on our state," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "It is vitally important that we talk openly and often about the dangers to prevent opioid misuse and ensure all are able to get the help they need."

Rhode Island is currently the only state to invest in a significant local media buy to ensure greater reach and frequency of these campaign messages. Through this partnership with Truth Initiative®, Rhode Island was chosen as a site for some of the formative research used to develop the campaign. This involved focus groups and pre-testing of concepts with Rhode Islanders to measure attitudes about prescription opioid misuse and dependence. In addition, Rhode Island will be instrumental in the evaluation of the national campaign to determine whether the messages are shifting knowledge and attitudes about prescription opioids. Truth Initiative surveyed 18 to 34-year-olds in Rhode Island to measure knowledge and attitudes before the campaign launch, and will survey people in this age group again after the campaign has played in our local media market for about nine months.

The campaign ads address the significant role prescription medications have played in the overdose epidemic and were designed to achieve four targeted outcomes: to get people to talk about the epidemic with friends and family; to encourage people to seek more information about prescription opioids and the epidemic; to impact young people's perception of risk for misuse; and to impact their intentions to share or misuse prescription opioids.

"Rhode Island is proud to be partnering with Truth Initiative to allow the valuable information we are gathering here about substance use disorder to help address and prevent this chronic disease across the country.," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "As we do everything we can to get treatment and recovery resources to those living with substance-use disorder, it is critical that we communicate to individuals, families, and communities about what they can do to prevent prescription opioid misuse and dependence. Something as simple as a conversation can be powerful enough to save a life."

"Substance use disorder has an impact on the affected individual as well as their family and the community at large," said Rebecca Boss, MA, the Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals. "This campaign on opioid misuse clearly demonstrates the devastating impact of this epidemic. We are hopeful that it provides one more prompt which reminds those affected that addiction is disease, recovery is possible, and treatment is available."

The campaign will begin running in Rhode Island later this month and will continue through the end of February 2019. Ads will run on a variety of TV and social media outlets, which have been chosen to best reach the target audience of 18 to 34-year-olds. The campaign in Rhode Island will drive people to additional resources through Truth Initiative (opioids.thetruth.com) and to information on the State's main overdose prevention website, PreventOverdoseRI.

The local implementation of the campaign is supported through federal funds and donations from the Del Prete Family Foundation, Rhode Island Foundation, and the Pfizer Foundation.

"Ensuring that people have the resources they need in order to live healthy lives is one of our priorities. We are very pleased to support this effort aimed at substance use prevention, as part of the state's broader response strategy," said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. Truth Initiative, through its truth® campaign, offers an unmatched expertise and record of success in public education programs targeted to youth and young adults. Since it began in 2000, the truth campaign has prevented over one million youth and young adults from smoking. In its nearly 20 years of work in this field, Truth Initiative has engaged youth and young adults in conversations about the risks of addiction and enlisted them to not only modify their own behavior but to influence the cultural norms of peers within their social communities

The campaign was developed using a data-driven approach with extensive formative research to inform the message development. The research included extensive national surveys and focus groups among youth, including research in Rhode Island to bring a local perspective to the campaign.

Rhode Island has a 24-7 Hope and Recovery Hotline to get people connected to treatment and recovery resources. By calling 401-942-STOP, Rhode Islanders can talk to a licensed counselor in English or Spanish. No insurance is required. More information about treatment and recovery, as well as overdose data, is available at www.preventoverdoseri.org

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