Working to fight the stigma and educate the youth on the opioid epidemic

We know mental health and the opioid epidemic can go hand in hand. Rural communities are working to overcome the crisis with strong farmer-to-farmer support. Farmers are working to educate and overcome the stigma of addiction.

The opioid epidemic can happen to anyone, that is the message Connie Gyorr is working to share with her rural Illinois community.

Gyorr states, “When I first found out that Marissa died from an overdose, I was embarrassed, I was sad, I felt like a bad parent, but you know, you have to get past that because this can happen to anybody. There is no discrimination, no age, no color, no nothing.”

She lost her daughter Marissa in 2016 to an accidental fentanyl overdose. She turned the tragic loss into an opportunity to serve her community through education.

According to Gyorr, “Education is, I think, the only way we’re going to get through this, education and prayer, because people don’t realize what’s being put into these drugs.”

She works with schools to educate young people about the dangers of opioids. It is an initiative shared by the American Farm Bureau.

AFBF’s Ray Atkinson explains, “We work with 4-H and FFA throughout this campaign to get that message out to youth because that’s where it starts. If kids understand the danger and understand that this isn’t just some parents being negative or whatever kids think, understand that there is real danger you can’t control.”

74 percent of farmers say that they have been directly impacted by the opioid epidemic, that is why Farm Bureau teamed up with the National Farmers Union to launch “Farm Town Strong’’ as a resource for reliable information.

“So we thought what we need is some place people can go that’s very user friendly, simple not a thousand things to read, but three or four things to go for help,” Atkinson explains.

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