Operation UNITE participating in social media training program to help fight opioid crisis in Appalachia

LONDON, Ky. – Operation UNITE is one of five organizations selected to participate in a pilot social media training program to help community-based organizations in Appalachia more effectively use social media to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers and illegal opiates, such as heroin.

The training is sponsored by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

More than 60 organizations applied for the program, which is intended to enhance community capacity and ultimately economic growth within the Appalachian Region.

Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter offer new opportunities for organizations to connect with their communities in order to share and receive information, influence health behaviors and provide a network of support.

Operation UNITE staff participated in a full-day training on July 11 to learn more about how to use different social media channels to reach and engage with the community to raise awareness of the problems as well as the role everyone can play in the solutions. The training included step-by-step guidance in developing a social media strategy for the organization.

The drug overdose rate in Kentucky is more than 1.5 times higher than the national average, and the rates in several counties in UNITE’s service area triple the national average.

“Our commonwealth has been ground zero for the explosion of opioid abuse,” said Nancy Hale, president/CEO of Operation UNITE. “But as a result, we also have been on the forefront of fighting this epidemic with a multi-pronged approach that has become a national model. This training will help Operation UNITE continue to leverage every available tool to help our families and communities.”

Following the training, health communication and marketing specialists from ORAU will work with Operation UNITE to provide additional guidance on implementing and improving the strategy, and evaluate the efforts in order to identify social media best practices for community-based organizations tackling the opioid crisis in Appalachia.

Operation UNITE encourages you to check out its social media to see the progress in action: Like us on Facebook<> and Follow us on Twitter<>.

For more information about Operation UNITE, visit its website at<>.

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In 2003, Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Somerset) worked to create Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative empowering citizens groups and community leaders in 32 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. UNITE, which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education, seeks to fight the drug epidemic by expanding drug awareness and education programs to keep people from using drugs; coordinating drug treatment and outreach programs for those who are already addicted; and operating regional undercover law enforcement task forces for interdiction and prosecution of those dealing drugs. For more information contact Nancy Hale toll-free at 1-866-678-6483.

Drug Tip Hotline – 1-866-424-4382 / Treatment Referral Line – 1-866-90-UNITE (1-866-908-6483)

About the Appalachian Regional Commission:  The Appalachian Regional Commission (<>) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.



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