Amid the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, other epidemics seem to have dropped out of the headlines. Among them is the opioid epidemic, one of the most dangerous in America.
While white Americans used to be the demographics most impacted by the abuse of these drugs, today Hispanics have been affected as well, reporting up to 7.3% incidence in young people aged 18-25.
SOMOS is a physician-led network focused on the prevention and treatment of communities at risk through a holistic approach that takes into account the cultural and ethnic background of those affected.
Be Gutsy, founded by Martha Michelle Colón, is a national bilingual program designed to educate Latino youth about the dangers of opioid use, communicating information about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Their partnership will allow educational institutions, community organizations, faith-based institutions, and medical offices in all communities that SOMOS serves in Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens to have the opportunity to receive essential tools and resources from schools to reduce the impact of this epidemic.
As both organizations explained in a press release, “the prescription opioid epidemic is just one medicine cabinet away, and we need to tackle it.”
Dr. Ramon Tallaj, Founder of SOMOS, understand it is crucial to support efforts.
“This partnership will offer crucial information about what opioids are, how they work, how the prescription opioid epidemic started, and how to respond,” mentioned Dr. Tallaj. “Through this effort, we want to make our adolescents and young adults feel empowered to openly discuss all the topics related to substance use disorders at home, with their doctor, and when necessary, receive the professional support needed.”
For Colon, this is a matter very close to her personal experience.
When the founder lived in Puerto Rico, her 16-year-old brother was injured in a motorcycle accident that caused him severe pain. After going through a prescription opioid regime, he succumbed to dependency.
After his death, Colon, a psychologist specializing in emotional intelligence, decided that something had to be done.
“I realized if I had known then what I know now, I could probably have saved his life,” Colon says. “Because there was not aware of how accessible prescription opioids are and the dangers of misusing them, we were treating his substance use disorder inadequately.” Recently, the world’s No. 1 beauty brand, L’Oréal Paris, announced Marta Michelle Colón as one of the 2020 Women of Worth Honorees for the Be Gutsy efforts.
All the free tools and resources can be reached at www.begutsy.org and are available to teachers, community leaders, individuals, family, communities, and “anyone who wants to join the effort to save our younger generation, one life at a time,” the press release concludes.