Hanover County, Virginia, doesn’t play catch-up when it comes to addictive behaviors in the community. The Hanover Cares Coalition uses its resources to initiate dialogue and prevent addiction before it starts.
Executive Director Octavia Marsh works throughout the county to educate teens, young adults, parents, and the general population on alcohol and other addictive substances. Marsh has used Innocorp’s resources, such as its intoxiclock® Pro, in outreach programs at fairs and in high schools with positive results. So she was eager to try the new Fatal Vision® Opioid Goggles in a focus group.
Innocorp is eager for experts like Marsh to provide vital feedback on products like the Opioid Goggles. Not only do they get a chance to try out a new product, but their feedback can affirm the direction the company has taken with it and helps Innocorp refine the product. For instance, input from one expert led the company to add a feature that made the experience easier for organizations to conduct.
Marsh gathered board members and others from the coalition for a test session on using the Opioid Goggles. “We definitely think it’s a great resource to start a conversation,” she said.
“People aren’t aware of how they would feel on opiates,” Marsh explained. The Opioid Goggles give those who don’t understand a safe and substance-free educational simulated experience of being under opioid influence.
The Goggles do this in four levels. The first level simulates how opioids divide a user’s attention and destroys his or her ability to focus on the job at hand. The second level simulates a user’s “nodding out” phase, often typified as a blackout. The third level deals with contrast sensitivity impairment in which a user struggles to engage with visual cues and fails to respond appropriately. The last level deals with heaviness and lethargy users experience because opioids affect the respiratory system’s ability to intake oxygen and reduce the heart rate. That results in slow movements, reduced strength, and a feeling of heaviness in the extremities.
“The Goggles could be a great tool,” Marsh said, noting that while the Goggles themselves won’t prevent addictive behavior, they can aid her coalition members to start a pertinent conversation to educate someone—teen, young adult, adult, or parent—about the influence opioids have on users.
The coalition carries on two campaigns called Just Say Something and Safe Home that promote drug and alcohol awareness. “The Goggles would fit in well,” Marsh noted. She would train school intervention counselors and teen members of the Coalition’s Teens Care Too outreach to use them with students. And as she already uses other resources, she would take them into schools during times of high risk, such as prom and homecoming, and set up a lunchroom table at which the Goggles could be used alongside other resources for a hands-on way to start pertinent discussions.
For Marsh, the progression of the opioid experience as simulated by the Goggles was particularly helpful. She noted that the weight simulation experience was especially eye opening and informative.
“The wow factor of the experience allows people to go away and talk to others about it,” Marsh said. And that leads to prevention education. “It’s definitely something parents and adults can benefit from.”
On a practical level, Marsh also appreciated that she could synchronize the Goggles with a phone while she was busy managing a presentation. “We were most impressed by that ability,” she said.
Hanover County’s across-the-board approach to substance-use prevention focuses on educating and intervening before addiction occurs. Marsh has an array of Innocorp’s products to help her and her volunteer staff: intoxiclock® Pro, Alcohol Simulation Goggles, Smash Match® Impairment Challenge, and D.I.E.S.® (Danger in Every Step) Balcony Danger Mat. That makes Innocorp products like the new Opioid Goggles a good fit for programs like this.
“The Opioid Goggles could be a great tool to have on hand,” Marsh concluded.