After a year of uncertainty and reports of increasing numbers of substance use disorders and overdoses, we have been so impressed by the efforts of our Community Outreach partners to keep their neighborhoods, towns, counties and cities safe. From transitioning educational programs to a virtual space in light of the pandemic to adapting the ways that they can provide direct outreach safely, their work remains essential to fighting the opioid epidemic.
To recognize their work, DisposeRx is proud to launch our DisposeRx Champions program. Every quarter, we will share stories from partners that have gone above and beyond in service to their communities.
We are presenting the inaugural award to the South Dakota National Guard.
The National Guard plays a unique role in keeping our country safe and are deployed wherever they are needed most. However, the stresses of deployment and the lack of understanding about healthy coping mechanisms can lead to substance misuse – whether it’s alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications.
But Kristi “Cricket” Palmer, Alcohol and Drug Control Officer/Risk Reduction Coordinator at the South Dakota National Guard (SDNG), knows that the right education and tools can protect the people who are tasked to protect the community.
Members of every National Guard branch must always be ready to face any challenge. With nearly 5,000 soldiers between the army and air guard, Kristi and her team have a huge role in making sure soldiers are prepared to serve as soon as they are called for duty. Soldiers participate in a mandatory substance abuse program with a primary focus on prevention and education. Palmer says, “Every soldier gets to hear about the dangers of addiction and the ways that it can impact their lives. Many of our soldiers are young and may not understand how easy it is to develop an addiction. The opportunity to speak with soldiers one on one makes a huge difference in keeping them safe.”
The soldiers aren’t the only ones that benefit from SDNG’s drug prevention program. The Alcohol and Drug Control Office uses every event as an opportunity to spread awareness for drug prevention and the importance of cleaning out your medicine cabinet. So, whether it’s a training for soldiers or an event for families, all of the guests are hearing the message of drug prevention – and all of them leave with packets of DisposeRx.
“I always challenge people to go home and take a look at their medicine cabinets. What do they actually need? What medicine is expired? If you don’t need it, get rid of it safely. You never know what can happen if you don’t,” says Palmer.
DisposeRx is proud to work with organizations such as SDNG that are passionate about protecting their communities. Learn more about their work by visiting their website: https://sd.ng.mil/Pages/Home.aspx