S3, E2 – Understanding the Rural Opioid Epidemic – Interview with Sue Tisdale, Harm Reduction Outreach Coordinator

On this edition of the Forgottonia Project, we try to deepen our understanding about the rural opioid epidemic that has plagued many of our communities in Forgottonia. To help us do this, we talk to local activist Sue Tisdale.

According to the CDC, our current opioid epidemic is an unprecedented and multifaceted problem that impacts different sectors of public health & health care. Recent polls indicate that one quarter of adults listed opioids or other drug addiction concerns as the “most serious problem” facing their community. The problem has hit rural America particularly hard as one study showed that 49% of people said they personally knew someone who was addicted to opioids. And in the wake of our current COVID-19 global pandemic, the crisis has been more pronounced than ever.

To help us understand the contributing factors behind this issue, as well as what we can do to address it, we are pleased to share this conversation with local activist, Sue Tisdale. 

CHS Student Ashley Howerter interviews Sue Tisdale


  • Sue is a native of Canton, IL. She has two children and 5 grandchildren. Her oldest son Richard, “Duney” battled opioid use disorder for over 13 years and died from an opioid overdose 2 weeks before his 29th bday on Feb 8, 2015. 
  • As part of her activism, Sue works with organizations like the FSDP (Families for Sensible Drug Policy) as a Harm Reduction Outreach Coordinator
  • Along with her daughter Jessica, Sue Runs the grassroots non-profit organization “Duney’s Defense” in memory of her son with the goal to bring awareness, support, education & prevention of overdose. Their motto is “every life is worth saving” 
  • In addition to organizing walks to raise awareness of the epidemic, Sue offers free naloxone training and distribution. She has trained more than 9,000 people on proper naloxone usage & delivered more than 7,000 naloxone kits as part of programming through a Drug Overdose Prevention Program grant
  • Sue came to our class via a Zoom video and shared her knowledge and experience with us. Please forgive the audio recording. It’s a bit shaky, but we hope you’ll enjoy. 

This episode concludes with an inquiry exercise Cuba High School students recently completed. Carley Seward, Baley Markley, Emma Utsinger, and Kyla Hughes discuss what they feel will are effective strategies are to address the opioid crisis. Please enjoy and reflect on what these awesome young folks have to say. 


Article – Sue Tisdale Canton Daily Journal

Article – US News, Drugs, Economy Equal Concern in Rural America

YouTube videoUSDA Responds to the Opioid Crisis

One Reply to “S3, E2 – Understanding the Rural Opioid Epidemic – Interview with Sue Tisdale, Harm Reduction Outreach Coordinator”

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