AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn University's Harrison School of Pharmacy and the Alabama Department of Mental Health created the Opioid Training Institute to address the state's opioid crisis.

The Opioid Training Institute includes 16 days of free training programs that will take place across the state from May through September. 

Because opioids affect people of all socioeconomic statuses, the training will focus on a broad spectrum of people. Eight programs will focus on health care professionals, and eight will be for community members, such as educators and social workers.

“We know that many factors led to Alabama’s unfortunate position as a leader in opioid use in the United States. Accordingly, we know that a variety of strategies are necessary to address the opioid problem in Alabama,” said Brent Fox, associate professor with the Harrison School of Pharmacy. “The Opioid Training Institute will allow us to convene a diverse group of experiences, expertise and perspectives to advance the fight against opioids in our state.”

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin and prescription pain relievers. 

In 2017, there were 422 overdose deaths involving either prescription or illicit drugs in Alabama, an average of more than one per day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The programs begin May 20-21 in Birmingham. Other stops in the state include Mobile and Baldwin County, Huntsville, Cullman, Montgomery, Auburn, Dothan, Troy and Tuscaloosa.

All sessions are free, but preregistration is preferred. Continuing education credit is available for health care professionals. 

“Understanding the risk factors for opioid use disorder and overdose in your school, community and place of worship may help someone to connect with the appropriate resources in their community. We also hope to start more conversations across different professions to share information about programs that already exist in communities across the state," said Karen Marlowe, assistant dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy. 

For more information and registration, visit AlabamaOTI.org.