Challenge

Diversion Alert was awarded one of 18 Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grants by the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) 15-146 Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program. They hoped to use the grant to impact Maine’s communities in a positive way by bringing awareness to issues surrounding opioid addiction, treatment, and support.

Approach

Pulse was hired by Diversion Alert to conduct a series of focus groups with the Wabanaki tribes of Maine – Maliseet, Mic-Mac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot.

The goal was to interview members of these tribes, including healthcare and law enforcement professionals, about the impact of opioids on their community. We held a total of 5 focus groups, one in each tribe’s respective community, and collected information from 37 volunteers, including community members and medical, mental health, and law enforcement professionals. We learned that all communities, not just Maine’s tribal communities, were suffering from an increase in opioid abuse, especially among young adults. We found that generational drug abuse in families was present, and most importantly, that negative stigmas surrounding those affected by addiction prevented users from seeking out the limited help available to them.

With this information we were able to understand the impact opioids have on the state of Maine. We proceeded to build a campaign called “Wabanaki Pathway to Hope and Healing” that would simultaneously inform the public about opioid abuse and attempt to eliminate the stigma surrounding addiction. We created an infographic and instructional video about how to use naloxone, an opiate antidote that can be used in cases of suspected drug overdose, as well as audio and video public service announcements. Our campaign conveyed a message that was important to the organizations we were working for: that community support is important for all those walking the path to recovery.

Results

Pulse Marketing effectively worked with Diversion Alert, the Wabanaki Health Clinics, and the Husson School of Pharmacy to spread a message of hope and healing to communities throughout Maine.

We successfully highlighted the effects opioids have on Maine residents and implemented steps to both treat addiction and encourage communities to support those walking the path to recovery.

We helped the state better understand that anyone can suffer from addiction, and that the best way to treat it is to make more treatment options available to communities, rather than attaching a stigma to those who seek help.

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