An Opioid Task Force meeting with a professor addressing students

The Opioid Epidemic: Empowering Community Action

The Health Science Center teams up with the AMA Alliance for a national fight against the opioid epidemic
February 1, 2019

The nation’s opioid epidemic claims the lives of more than 130 people in the United States every day. Recognizing this as a national health epidemic, the AMA Alliance (AMAA), in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA), is focusing efforts and attention on educating physicians, families and our communities about what they can do to help end the epidemic.

To help, the Texas A&M University Health Science Center has joined with the AMAA to address the problem on a national level.

In a communications partnership, the AMAA and ITN Productions, a television production company, are producing a news and current affairs-style online program designed to raise awareness of effective practices communities are using to stem and reverse the epidemic.

The program, The Opioid Epidemic: Empowering Community Action, aims to highlight the commitment of the government agencies, nonprofits, universities like Texas A&M Health Science Center and the AMA Alliance community.




The Opioid Epidemic: Empowering Community Action will feature interviews, news items and leaders and organizations that are working to solve the epidemic. The program will include several components:

  • A report from the AMA Alliance Annual Meeting on the AMA Alliance National Initiative to educate physicians, families and communities about what they can do to help end the epidemic.
  • A feature on the role of emergency nurses as a first-line resource combating the opioid epidemic at the ground level and in local communities, led by the Emergency Nurses Association.
  • A visit to the Texas A&M Health Science Center to explore how the institution is implementing programs to help reduce stigma and opioid misuse and training students to properly administer opioid overdose reversal medications.
  • An exclusive interview with AMA president-elect and chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, Patrice Harris, MD, on the task force recommendations and the involvement of local communities in finding solutions for the nationwide opioid epidemic.

The program also works toward solutions on the most pressing issues: addressing solutions for patients, enhancing comprehensive treatment and support for substance use disorders, and public education and training. All of these efforts center on both tackling the epidemic and ending the stigma and misperceptions associated with having a substance use disorder.

The campaign will be promoted to more than 50 partner organizations across the country at community, state and national levels—including the AMA community. The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s interprofessional Opioid Task Force is featured in the initial video launching the national effort.

“The video does a great job of showcasing our task force including our student ambassadors who work to address this public health crisis through research, education and community outreach,” said Carrie L. Byington, MD, ’85, vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System, senior vice president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

As mentioned in the video, the Health Science Center is now the first institution in the nation to commit to train every health professions student to administer naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose and save lives.

“The opioid crisis affects individuals, families and entire communities,” added Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH, associate vice president of strategic partnerships and initiatives at the Health Science Center. “That’s why we need all the health care professions working together with communities; it’s the only way we’re going to solve this crisis.”

“We can all be proud of the work of our Opioid Task Force and their dedication to our core values of excellence, leadership, and selfless service to reduce deaths from opioids and eliminate the stigma associated with seeking treatment, while also empowering the next generation of health care professionals to become advocates for naloxone administration,” Byington said.

To watch the video series and for more information about the series visit

— Mary Leigh Meyer

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