Educators' unions take action to combat impacts of opioid epidemic

Educators' unions take action to combat impacts of opioid epidemic


Bristol-Plymouth teacher led effort to get information to educators, students with opioid dependence

To combat the marginalization of people with opioid dependence, members of the Bristol-Plymouth Teachers Association have created resources for students, educators and families that outline rights while in recovery regarding employment and schooling. The effort to educate is set to go nationwide.

“Because of historical stigmatization and dehumanization associated with substance use disorders, we forget that people with opioid dependence have rights.

Bristol-Plymouth Teachers Association member Cynthia Roy

Delegates at the National Education Association’s annual Representative Assembly held earlier this month in Houston voted to make the information compiled by the Bristol-Plymouth educators a resource to be distributed at schools and colleges across the country.

“People with opioid dependence and their families often sink into great depths of despair. It is hard to recover when you have lost so much,” said Cynthia Roy, a member of the Bristol-Plymouth Teachers Association.

Using a grant from the NEA, Roy led a task force that researched and created brochures for high school and college students, educators and families. The brochures provide information about protections and rights for those in recovery so they can continue their education or maintain job security.

The BPTA materials highlight provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“Because of historical stigmatization and dehumanization associated with substance use disorders, we forget that people with opioid dependence have rights,” Roy said.

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A resource for educators and students with opioid use disorder.

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Roy said that her union is concerned about the civil and human rights impacts of the opioid crisis, which claims 130 lives daily, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Teachers’ unions promote optimal conditions for human growth and development and work tirelessly to steer society in a direction of equity and social justice,” said BPTA President Tasha Cordero. “The grant was written and the resource was created because of a commitment to serve educators and students and to fight for a fair and just society.”

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy applauded the BPTA’s work.

“People in recovery need all the support they can get, and the BPTA has created an important resource that will perhaps bring some hope and help into very difficult situations,” Najimy said.

The BPTA task force’s resources are available at www.moveshakeeducate.com. The NEA will release information during the coming school year.

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