Life in Reverse: Making an Impact on the Opioid Epidemic

“It’s my life in reverse.”

When I met Lily Rivera in Providence, Rhode Island, that’s how she described her work. Not many can say that they are living their life in reverse. But Lily is finding a way to do just that. She has had her share of hardship and is now using her experience to help others who are struggling with opioid addiction. She’s an inspiration to all who meet her.

In Providence, Lily is one of the many individuals and organizations coming together to make an impact on the opioid response. Rhode Island is bringing together partners and looking at creative solutions to tackle the epidemic.

One example in Rhode Island is a new campaign, Overdose Doesn’t Mean It’s Over, led by the Rhode Island Department of Health, with support from the CDC Foundation. This campaign, which is showing up throughout Providence, shares the lifesaving impact of naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and how anyone can be involved in the opioid response. The campaign is also pointing to the NaloxBox, Rhode Island’s innovative solution to making naloxone accessible and helping to destigmatize addiction.

Here's one of the powerful messages being shared through this campaign:

The CDC Foundation’s response is part of the work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase capacity for states to carry out opioid prevention and response activities and programs. Providing support to 12 states with the highest burden, including Rhode Island, the CDC Foundation is working with departments of health and community organizations to increase capacity by providing resources, support and staffing to tackle the epidemic.

The extensive network of staff hired by the CDC Foundation to work in Rhode Island and throughout the country is making an impact. These health professionals are conducting surveillance activities, developing prescription drug monitoring programs, drafting clinical guidelines for pain management, educating people about the risks associated with opioids and creating rapid response teams.

To learn more about this work, check out these stories related to the opioid response:

Read Lily’s story and learn more about the work that Rhode Island is doing to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Read more about the staff who are working together to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Photos: © Josh Behan / CDC Foundation

Terri Heyns, MA, is the associate vice president for communications for the CDC Foundation.