Riley Co. welcomes Alaska graduate to educate community about opioids

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 1:58 PM CST
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RILEY CO., Kan. (WIBW) - A graduate of an Alaskan college will join the Riley Co. Health Department team to educate the community about the dangers of opioids.

The Riley County Health Department says on Wednesday, Jan. 18, that it has welcomed Asia Sampson as its new Community Health Educator. She will share opioid prevention education in the tri-county region and focus primarily on youth.

“If I can affect even one person positively and give them the tools to make better decisions, all the effort will be worth it,” said Sampson.

RCHD noted that the position is grant-funded and will allow Sampson to collaborate with local schools and community organizations to share information about the dangers of opioid use. She plans to begin with a visit to health classes at Manhattan High School this semester.

The Health Department indicated that the safety message will focus on preventative behaviors to address the problem before it starts.

“With the presence of fentanyl in street drugs, it’s important for people to understand that even one pill can kill,” Sampson said. “I use the analogy of chocolate chips in cookies. When you mix the batter, you can’t guarantee each cookie will have the same number of chips. A single counterfeit pill may get a large amount of fentanyl, enough to cause death, and there’s no way to tell just by looking at it. I want kids to know the facts and feel empowered to make choices for their own safety.”

The Department noted that sharing information with parents and other community members will also be an important part of Sampson’s job. Proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs, talking with children and taking advantage of school resources like counselors can have a large impact on a child’s life.

“Always communicate with your children,” said Sampson. “They know more than they think you know, and they need to hear from you as an authority in their lives.”

RCHD said Sampson started her career as a pharmacy tech and after 9 years, she decided to focus more on public health and wellness. She joins the Kansas community from Alaska where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.