CHENANGO COUNTY — Truth Pharm, a Binghamton-based organization that aims to reduce stigma and educate communities on substance use, has started a free monthly Narcan training on Zoom as well as twice monthly family support group meetings in Chenango County.
Truth Pharm Program Coordinator Courtney Hayes said those attending the hour-long Zoom Narcan trainings can expect the same structure and material as their in-person course.
"We go over the same presentation that we do when we do an in-person Narcan training, so that covers the scope and impact of the opioid crisis in the US, it covers the science of substance use, so how the brain and body changes over time, and then we end with how to recognize and respond to an overdose with Narcan," she said.
Residents of Chenango County and other eligible areas will also be eligible to receive a free Narcan kit in the mail after completion of the training.
Hayes said the Narcan training will give attendees information on how and where they can get Narcan kits, but the organization also has funding to send kits to eligible areas via mail.
"At the start of the training we send a training record that includes address, phone number, basic contact information. People can choose an option whether they want a kit or not," Hayes explained. "If they do want a kit and they live in one of the applicable counties, we’ll send it right in the mail. If they want a kit and aren’t in one of those counties, we can connect with them to figure out the best way to get them a kit."
The trainings will be held on the first Thursday of every month at 5 p.m. on Zoom. Pre-registration is not required, and a link to the meeting can be found on the Monthly Community Narcan Training Facebook event page.
"It’s important to learn how to use Narcan because it’s safe and readily available and it can save lives, especially in rural communities when EMS response might take a little while just because of the geography of the community. It’s important for families and community members to have a tool that can keep their loved ones alive," said Hayes.
"We don’t need to keep losing community members, and empowering ourselves and the people that we love with this knowledge and this tool is one of the most effective ways to make sure people are staying safe, healthy, and alive," she added.
In addition to the monthly Narcan trainings, Truth Pharm will also be facilitating family support group meetings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Guernsey Memorial Library.
The next family support group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. The groups are free to attend with no pre-registration or ongoing commitment necessary.
"It’s a support group for the people who are not necessarily using substances themselves but are impacted by the use of someone that they love. We know it can be really hard to understand that our loved ones are using substances, and also to help them find treatment, to help them stay safe," Hayes explained. "We hear people tell us stop enabling, and we have this crippling anxiety when the phone rings late at night, and it’s just really a terrifying and a scary and anxiety inducing time. So the family support group is developed as a way to make sure that other people don’t go through that experience feeling lost and alone."
She said the general structure of the meetings will be the same each week, beginning with brief education on substance use or harm reduction topics. After that, participants will have the opportunity to talk about their experiences and feelings with each other.
To close each meeting, Hayes said the group will go over a self care practice, "so that people can walk out of the room hopefully feeling a little better than they did walking in."
Hayes added that the meetings also set an expectation of confidentiality among participants, and ask them not to share information about the group with others.
"We have a basic expectation of an understanding of confidentiality. We do kind of touch on it at the start of the group, you know, we work really hard to respect the privacy, please don't share things within the group outside of the group," said Hayes. "With that said, it’s not therapy, it’s not medical care, so there are some limits. We can’t really enforce expectations of confidentiality by the other people in the group."
"It’s just kind of a more mutual aid sort of thing than anything else, to be able to share space with people who have been there, who are there, and really understand, so you can talk about these experiences without the fear of judgment, shame, or stigma," she said.
For more information on the monthly Zoom Narcan trainings and family support groups, contact Courtney Hayes at 607-296-3016.
"I’m always happy to talk and give people more information," said Hayes. "Sometimes people feel a little anxious before they walk in the door, so I’m always happy to answer questions to help alleviate that."
More information on Truth Pharm can also be found at TruthPharm.org, or on the Truth Pharm Facebook page.