Grant aims to help young girls who may be vulnerable to opioid misuse


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Travis County coalition is hoping to prevent opioid addiction early when it comes to young girls.

The Travis County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition was awarded a grant recently which will be used over the next few years to train school nurses. The coalition says preteen and teen girls handle stress differently from boys, leaving them especially vulnerable to opioid misuse. The focus will be girls ages 10 to 17.

“There seems to be a gap there and a need,” said Taryne Hallett with LifeWorks Austin, which is part of the coalition.

She said the nurses will start training soon. “Not only are they learning how to talk about the topic, but learning how to look for signs. What might a young person be asking about or talking about?”

In 2016, 9 percent of Texas students in 7th through 12th grades misused codeine cough syrup and 4 percent misused other opioids, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Anna Lombardo is with Phoenix House, a non-profit substance abuse organization. She often talks to young children about the dangers of addictive painkillers. She believes access to opioids is a concern.

“Grandchildren help their grandmother or grandfather crush their pills is what one little boy said: “‘Crush the pills and give it to grandma,'” said Lombardo. “I said, ‘What did you do? Did you put medicine away for her?’ He said, ‘No, I gave it to her.'”

Cardea, an organization that specializes in training health professionals and non-profits, is behind the design and implementation of the webinars which will help educate community clinicians and school nurses.

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