By Joe Abdalla, Executive Director, Code 3
The opioid epidemic has touched every corner of this country. In my travels with Code 3 Association and the RALI CARES educational program, I’ve spoken to thousands of people from wide open farmlands to cramped city blocks. Something we all have in common is knowing somebody who has been impacted by the opioid crisis, which knows no demographic boundaries.
As Executive Director of Code 3, I have had the unique opportunity to take this opioid awareness program across the United States. At every stop, my team and I educate people about the warning signs of substance misuse in the home. I am a former law enforcement officer, and I’ve seen my share of overdoses. In many cases, signs that addiction had taken hold were obvious to me. But the family didn’t know what to look for. That’s why I am dedicating my energy now to a program that is showing parents and other family members how to spot the signs of substance misuse and ultimately help prevent the loss of more lives.
The RALI CARES trailer is a hands-on learning experience, guided by experts. Parents, teachers, caregivers, anybody learns what to look for if they suspect a loved one might be struggling with substances. From physical and behavioral signs to simple items laying around the house, it is critically important that people know how to recognize various red flags in order to stop the deadly cycle of addiction. Each of our tour guides has, at least once, walked a parent through the trailer who has identified one of the warning signs on display and become visibly upset. We offer helpful information regarding local contacts for prevention specialists, intervention and treatment, along with other partner organizations who join us at tour sites. Visitors are gracious to walk away equipped with tools and resources that they didn’t have before.
We receive many requests to bring the trailer to various locations and events around the country. Since we can’t be everywhere, we try to leave behind as much information as possible to equip every person we meet with knowledge to share within their communities. We believe this outreach is critical to help spread awareness about the opioid crisis we currently face. The RALI CARES program has recently been recreated in a virtual platform so people everywhere can take a look inside the trailer, even if they can’t make it to a live event. I highly recommend the experience (and not just because I make an appearance in it).
Together, we can help put an end to the opioid epidemic. Through educational and preventative efforts, people are learning the warning signs of substance misuse, and organizations like the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) are lifting up these efforts and other solutions to bring about real change. There is much work to be done, but my colleagues and I are excited to spearhead this program. We hope it will empower others to make a difference back home in their communities.