Generation Rx holds second annual opioid awareness walk

Sammi Verespy, Staff Writer

Generation Rx put on the second annual opioid awareness walk this past Thursday.

This walk is one that many Wilkes students attended, and many donated to support the Wilkes-Barre area fire department and their naloxone treatment program, this includes both the doses and rehabilitation.

According to Dylan Fox, 2020 PharmD candidate, 55 people participated in this walk.

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Dylan Fox led the participants in a moment of silence for opiod-related deaths. 55 students walked from the Fenner Quad. to Kirby Park.

“Generation Rx started out as a way to educate the community, mainly about med disposal and safe ways to use medicines. Then there was a realization of the use of opioids in the community,” said Dr. Thomas Franko, the academic advisor of Generation Rx. “There is a lot of misuse of prescriptions and other opioids in the community. This is something that is constituted as a disease. Not to mean this as a wag of a finger, but more to bring awareness to this disease that is taking over so many lives.”

The opioid crisis is currently an issue locally throughout northeastern Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States.

“This past year alone we administered 316 naloxone doses in the field as a fire department,” said Wilkes-Barre fire Chief Jay Delaney. “This walk is one that shows that the future pharmacists and citizens care about what is going on in the community, they are working to help the community with the need for these medications, but also remove the stigma against these opioids.”

“This event also shows that the pharmacy students are very aware of the crisis occurring in the community,” said Chief Jay Delaney. “Their actions are speaking louder than words. By doing what they are doing, they are helping the community in so many more ways than they can even tell.”

These impacts help to ensure that there is a place for people to have knowledge of where to go. To also realize that what they are going through is something that is valid. That many people are willing to help and listen.

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Student coordinators Cody Morcom, Dylan Fox, and Harrison Ferro stand with the table of t-shirts for participants. The walk accepted $5 donations for naloxone for the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department.

“The goal of the walk is to normalize opioid-related issues in our society,” said Fox. “We do not like using the term overdose, simply because that is such a dirty word now. So, we want to ensure that there is knowledge about these issues that occur around campus, that affect students and the community.”

The organizers of the walks shared their thoughts on the word “overdose” and how they believe this has been reduced to a stigmatized word. Since they believed this is a stigmatized word, they want a focus on overdoses as a disease.

“Opioid-related breathing emergencies are one that heavily impacts our community,” said Dr. Thomas S. Franko, assistant professor in pharmacy practice. “There have been 116 deaths, and 316 lives saved due to naloxone. These are students’ sisters, mothers, fathers, grandfathers. We need to normalize this as a disease, not a choice. This addiction is taking people away from their families, then from everything they love, and then taking them away from us. This walk allows us to talk about this sticky situation that is hurting so many of us.”

This is a disease that affects not only the person that it is directly affected but also those who are around them. This is why Wilkes University’s campus came together for this awareness walk.

Fox elaborated more on why this walk, in particular, is necessary for the Wilkes campus.

“This is super important on Wilkes’ campus for the pharmacists and future pharmacists to be able to talk to the general public about the issues in the community,” said Fox. “This helps people know what is available to them. For instance, anyone can walk into their community pharmacy and get naloxone. As long as there is a standing order people can get it. A lot of people who need it don’t know that.”

This walk, through Wilkes-Barre’s Fire Department, accepted donations for naloxone.

There are also resources available on campus to students and community members struggling first or second hand from opioid issues.

This includes counseling available in Passan hall, local Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and Al-Anon meetings.

Scheduling for counseling at Passan Hall can be done by calling 570-408-4730 and scheduling an appointment or visiting Passan in person. Passan also offers a support line which can be reached by students in the event that the health and wellness services are not open at 570-408-2428.

Local Al-Anon and NA meeting times can be found through a google search with your zip code.