Beginning in March 2020, members of the Council on Chemical Abuse prevention team found themselves abruptly forced to reimagine prevention education programs for a virtual world. A new article in The Response magazine – a periodical issued twice-yearly by the SOS Berks Opioid Coalition – puts a spotlight on how Berks County prevention efforts have been sustained through online offerings.
“We knew we could not allow COVID-19 to overshadow the on-going need to protect our community from the impact of substance use disorder and other addictive diseases. As opportunities for in-person interaction and prevention education programs were curtailed, it became imperative to develop vibrant ways to continue to connect with youth, parents, and community members,” the article states.
When it became clear that in-person instruction would be suspended indefinitely, COCA’s prevention specialists moved quickly to develop a bevy of virtual prevention lessons. Those included lessons held live on Zoom, as well as pre-recorded lessons offered on demand. Lessons addressed a variety of topics including vaping, underage drinking and medication safety, and were made available to Berks County schools and students in grades K-12. Later, additional prevention videos were offered to summer camps, including a series of 10-minute parent videos, Prevention in Pajamas, designed to guide parents of elementary school-aged children in teaching valuable prevention lessons.
Research suggests that smoking is a risk factor for developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. This summer, COCA’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist Teresa Detweiler began offering tobacco cessation classes in a virtual format. The online classes provide individuals the support and resources they need to quit without having to leave home. All classes meet via Zoom once a week for eight weeks and offer participants free Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Learn more or register for a class.