Georgia Opioid

Aetna sponsors third annual opioid forum in DeKalb County

May 15 2019

Larry Johnson, National Association of Counties Chairman of the Large Urban County Caucus, speaking during the recent opioid summit in Georgia.

As national efforts continue to combat opioid use disorder (OUD), the Aetna Georgia Markets team is committed to supporting their local community.

These efforts were showcased in the third annual DeKalb County Opioid Summit – where the focus was on ways to help youth and families in the county overcome the challenges of OUD.

Aetna, a CVS Health company, sponsored the May 2nd summit. The event highlighted the local impacts of this health issue and Aetna’s commitment to help at the local level. The event featured youth from local high schools, stakeho­­­­lders and community leaders.

This diverse group of stakeholders discussed the opioid epidemic from their perspective, bringing to light the negative aspects they see daily and the opportunities to improve the situation in DeKalb and for the state. Frank Ulibarri, Georgia and Gulf States market president, represented Aetna.

The local impacts of the crisis

The third annual DeKalb County Opioid Summit focused on ways to help youth and families overcome the challenges of opioid use disorder.

In 2013, Antoinette Tuff found herself held hostage as a bookkeeper in a local school in Georgia but was able to disarm the gunman by talking him into surrendering to the police. After that experience, Tuff founded Kids on the Move for Success, which is an organization dedicated to helping children see the positive in life.

“No matter what it looks like today, it will be better tomorrow,” said Huff, who spoke at the summit. “Kids today face so much and are more likely to turn to drugs to feel better or to escape. This epidemic is not in some distant land, it’s in our front yards and we need to deal with it.”

For panelist Robin Elliot, working to solve the abuse of opioids is her life’s mission.

The death of Elliott’s son from a heroin overdose has made her become an advocate in Georgia. Elliott’s organization GA Overdose Prevention has dispensed over 1,000 Narcan kits across Georgia to help those who may experience an overdose. She’s also worked to pass a Georgia law that prohibits any legal action against someone who may have overdosed (from any substance).

Hyancinth Douglas, a juvenile probation supervisor and youth advocate, talked about how teenagers need to find positive support in their teachers, mentors and family members and reach out to them.

“Educate yourself about drugs,” said Douglas. “Try to determine what triggers you, and use your support system to help. There is no shame here.”

In a workshop hosted by CVS Health, two pharmacists outlined the real threat that opioids pose to the community and the entire country.

In a packed classroom, the pharmacists cautioned that adolescents are at an increased risk for addiction since their brains are still developing.

Ulibarri said he was proud to again be a part of this meaningful event.

Frank Ulibarri, Georgia and Gulf States market president, spoke at the event.

“We are honored to once again collaborate on the third annual forum of this kind in DeKalb County,” said Ulibarri. “As a fellow Georgian, I’m proud of Aetna’s mission to help people on their path to better health – including the time and resources that have been dedicated to tackling the most-pressing issues facing the communities where we live and work. Working together with DeKalb County and other local stakeholders, we’re able to explore the impact of OUD on our youth and families and to discuss how to best combat it. It is ultimately on all of us to act.”

Aetna is committed to combatting OUD with a multifaceted strategy focused on preventing prescription opioid misuse and addiction, intervening in at-risk behavior, and supporting members with access to treatment for addiction. For more information on our efforts, click here. Similarly, CVS Health has made an enterprise-wide commitment to help address prescription opioid use disorder by designing programs to increase access to safe medication disposal, encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients and communities, expand access to life-saving overdose reversal agents, and support local recovery programs. For more information on those efforts, click here.