RIDOH launches new opioid public awareness campaign

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today launched Over the Dose RI, a multi-channel education campaign designed to reduce the misuse and abuse of opioid pain medications by Rhode Islanders ages 18 to 50.

The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of Governor Gina Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The campaign is closely aligned with the Task Force’s Strategic Plan to reduce overdose deaths.

The campaign is adapted from Over the Dose VT, a successful, data-driven campaign developed by Rescue Agency Public Benefit for the Vermont Department of Health. Educational content features information on the risks of opioids, how they affect the body, and how they interact with substances like alcohol.

The campaign includes social and digital media as well as a website, OvertheDoseRI.org, which uses simple language to explain the science of opioid dependence, addiction, and withdrawal. An animated video Public Service Announcement (PSA) and educational modules motivate user-engagement by introducing interactive elements.

“Opioids are appropriate medication for some people in certain situations. But for most people, non-opioid pain management alternatives are much safer and are just as effective,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH in a press release from RIDOH. “Our aim is to empower people to be informed participants in the decision-making process about how to manage their pain, and how to heal as safely as possible.”

Non-opioid pain management alternatives include (but are not limited to) chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Formative research conducted for Over the Dose VT and Rescue Agency revealed that high-risk young adults ages 18 to 25 perceived opioids as carrying little to no risk for occasional, recreational use because they did not know what opioids are or how opioids could harm them. Research participants believed that overdoses only happen in extreme cases; some participants did not perceive the serious consequences of mixing opioids with other substances.

Over the Dose RI aims to expand this educational messaging to Rhode Islanders up to age 50. The paid social media and digital campaign uses interest-based targeting and dynamic content to capture a wide range of audiences.

The Over the Dose RI social and digital media campaign will continue through mid-June 2019. Ads will run on Facebook and Instagram, which have been selected for their reach to 18 to 50-year-olds. The strategic social media campaign will direct people to OvertheDoseRI.org and to resources on the State’s overdose data dashboard and website, PreventOverdoseRI.org.

Rhode Islanders can call the 24/7 crisis hotline – 401-414-LINK (5465) – to learn more about statewide treatment and recovery support services for opioid use disorder. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are available to help answer questions and offer connection to local resources

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