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PROMISE Initiative: Prevent Opioid Misuse

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March 27, 2019

Amy Myers: Today, we’re talking about MSU Extension Service’s PROMISE Initiative, which aims to prevent prescription opioid misuse. Hello, I am Amy Meyers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we’re speaking with Mary Nelson Robertson, Mississippi State University Extension Associate, and Je’Kylynn Steen, Mississippi State University Extension Community Health Intern. In the media we see a lot about the opioid crisis. I see that you all are working with farmers on this topic. Are farmers impacted by the opioid crisis?/Why did you decide to focus on farmers?

Mary Nelson Robertson: Thank you so much for having us, Amy. While no corner of the United States has gone untouched by the opioid epidemic, farmers and farmworkers are definitely being impacted the opioid crisis. American Farm Bureau recently released survey data that suggests that 3 out of 4 or 75% of farmers, farmworkers report being directly impacted by opioid abuse. Opioid abuse or misuse is defined as taking a medication without a prescription, taking someone else’s prescription painkillers, taking more than dosage prescribed by doctor, taking a medication for a purpose other than the reason it was prescribed, or doctor shopping.

Amy Myers: Wow! Can you tell me more about what Extension’s PROMISE Initiative is doing to combat this crisis?

Je’Kylynn Steen: The PROMISE Initiative is an acronym for PReventing Opioid Misuse In the SouthEast. The PROMISE Initiative is implementing a multi-level approach to prevent prescription opioid misuse among rural families, including agricultural producers and youth, in MS. We are partnering with the State Opioid Response Team, MS Department of Mental Health to provide primary prevention messages for the Stand Up MS Campaign. Messages include securing and locking up medications, having conversations with family members about opioid misuse, and properly disposing of medications. We are also training all MS Extension Service agents in Mental Health First Aid, which teaches individuals to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. In addition, we are partnering with AgriSafe to educate health care providers about the unique risk profile of ag producers for opioid misuse.

Amy Myers: That is interesting. Can you talk more about the unique risks of ag producers?

Mary Nelson Robertson: There are several theories as to why ag producers are at a unique risk of misusing opioids. Ag producers are at a greater risk of becoming hurt while working due to the physical work farming involves. In addition to the greater risk of becoming injuring on the job, ag producers have a number of stressors that are out of their control. For example, the weather and commodity prices. Some ag producers also feel the pressure of maintaining their family business. When an ag producer gets hurt on the job, he or she is typically looking for a quick fix so that they can get back to business as soon as possible. Therefore, a painkiller is often prescribed in order to alleviate the pain so the ag producer can get back to operating the farm equipment or milking cows. Opioids, although intended to treat physical pain, can also begin to mask emotional pains and stressors, which can lead to opioid misuse or addiction.

Amy Myers: Wow! Where can we get more information?

Je’Kylynn Steen: I am so glad you asked, Amy. AgriSafe is hosting a webinar series. The next webinar is about opioid misuse risk among farmers on April 2, 2019, at 12 PM. The webinars are recorded and can be accessed any time on When you reach, click on the quick link “Opioid Misuse Prevention” to access the webinars and additional information.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much for sharing about AgriSafe’s webinar. For more information on the PROMISE Initiative, visit the Mississippi State University Extension Service PROMISE Initiative webpage or email Mary Nelson Robertson at Today, we’ve been speaking with Mary Nelson Robertson and Je’Kylynn Steen. I’m Amy Meyers and this has been Farm and family. Have a great day!
Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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