2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit Held in Vernal

By Julene Reese | April 4, 2022



The Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative (TROI) was launched in 2018 by Utah State University Extension to provide effective resources to address opioid and other substance misuse among rural and Native American community members. The goal of the initiative is to help combat the effects of opioids through prevention, recovery, and treatment with a primary focus on stigma and harm reduction education.

To support these efforts, a community-focused Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit is held in Vernal on June 22 - 24, with pre-conference events for first responders on June 21. The summit will provide families and individuals who are affected by the opioid epidemic an opportunity to gather, share resources, and learn from leading opioid use disorder professionals.

“The Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative Resource Center is excited to host the 5th annual Opioid Wellness Summit in Vernal,” said Cris Meier, USU Extension community resource and economic development specialist and project director of TROI. “The summit provides tribal and rural community members and health and wellbeing professionals with inspiring sessions that emphasize the Medicine Wheel, holistic health, and harm reduction, all of which can reduce stigmas associated with drug use.”  

Summit organizer Valentina Sireech, TROI Resource Center program coordinator, explained the significance of the summit conference theme.

“Our theme, ‘Nuh-Nuh-Muh (Together): Reconnecting & Healing,’ reflects our commitment to sharing ideas, strategies, and best practices to address the opioid epidemic,” she said. “I hope this summit will ignite our sacred duty to lead the way for recovery and to heal our communities together.”

Speakers for the 2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit include Indigenous experts on healing and recovery. Lissa YellowBird-Chase of Mandan, Hidatsu, and Arikara nations, the founder of the Sahnish Scouts, a volunteer organization that advocates for justice and who searches for missing Indigenous persons will provide the keynote address. General sessions feature Indigenous experts and spiritual leaders.

The summit will also feature a public Health and Wellness Expo that spotlights local substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery organizations. On June 23, attendees will have an opportunity to connect through local food truck dining and a TROI Social Powwow with artisan and holistic health booths. The summit will wrap up on Friday, June 24, with a local recovery and treatment provider panel, an Addicts to Athletes rally, and closing remarks from USU Extension Vice President Ken White.               

Registration for the summit opens on April 1. Visit https://bit.ly/2022OpioidSummit for more details and to register.

For information about summit participation and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sireech at 435-722-1200 or valentina.sireech@usu.edu.

Media Contact: Cris Meier, project director 435-797-0582, cris.meier@usu.edu

Summit Contact: Valentina Sireech, 435-722-1200, valentina.sireech@usu.edu