SHU Sophomore Helping to Prevent Opioid Abuse

FAIRFIELD, Conn.— Sacred Heart University’s Maureen Hamilton Wellness Center has its first AmeriCorps Member from the Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership (RYASAP) Prevention Corps in Bridgeport. Adrianna Perugini, a sophomore at SHU, began her 10-month term as an AmeriCorps member in October. Perugini is serving with Janice Kessler, alcohol and other drug intervention and prevention specialist; Psychology Professor Jessica Samuolis; and Stephanie Trelli, coordinator of safety and security programs, to implement seven opioid use awareness and prevention activities on campus. Perugini is a marketing major and a member of s.w.e.e.t (peer educators).

The position arose as a result of Sacred Heart University receiving a $10,000 grant continuation from the Connecticut Healthy Campus Initiative to implement a comprehensive opioid education and awareness program on campus. Planned initiatives include two colloquiums, speakers, panels, table events and social media messaging. Perugini has created printed materials and giveaways that will be disseminated at several events throughout this academic year. These materials will include information about opioids and will provide resources to students, faculty, staff and friends who have been touched personally by their own or someone else’s opioid misuse, addiction or overdose.

Wednesday, December 5, is Opioid Awareness Day. Information will be available at tables in the 63’s hallway beginning at 10 a.m. Returning guest speaker Sarah C. Howroyd, co-founder of H.O.P.E. (Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education) will be featured at a Human JourneyColloquia Series event at 2 p.m. in the University Commons auditorium. She will speak on the topic “Freedom from Opioids through Prevention, Education and Hope.”  Refreshments and giveaways will be available.

At 6 p.m., a panel of speakers will tell personal stories of inspiration, hope and recovery, from various perspectives (wife, recovering addict, family member) in the Martire Forum. Refreshments, resource materials and giveaways will be on hand.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl) killed more than 42,249 people in the United States in 2016—more than any year on record. Forty percent of the deadly overdoses involved a prescription opioid.

Closer to home, Connecticut is in the top 10 states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths. In 2016, there was an increase from 5.7 deaths per 100,000 persons to 24.5 deaths per 100,000 persons in Connecticut.

Many individuals first encounter opioids after receiving a prescription to treat pain from procedures or athletic injuries. “It’s important for students to understand the effects of opioids and to be aware of how the misuse of drugs can lead to addiction,” Perugini said.

“No one chooses to become an addict or to suffer the effects of a loved one’s addiction,” added Kessler. “No one should have to suffer alone or feel ashamed to get help. Substance use disorder is an illness that affects individuals and families from all walks of life and all ages. Raising awareness opens up communication and doors for help, recovery and prevention.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Sacred Heart University student advocate Adrianna Perugini and friends campaign for opioid awareness. From left are Coordinator of Safety and Security Programs Stephanie Trelli with students Juliana Morrone, Perugini and Anna Woodard.


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus, which is located about an hour from Manhattan and 2.5 hours from Boston. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. More than 8,500 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, yet at the same time develops students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives and professions and in their communities. A spirit of service, entrepreneurship and social justice is the essence of who we are and can be seen inside and outside the classroom as students learn how to make a difference far beyond Fairfield. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 384 Colleges–2019 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. It also placed SHU on its lists for “Happiest Students” and “Most Engaged in Community Service,” each of which comprises only 20 U.S. schools. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program. www.sacredheart.edu


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