Meet the women on the frontline of combatting addiction in our community

As we wrap up this month of recognizing women’s contribution to history and our present world, we are celebrating two Rayce Rudeen team members making a powerful impact in our community. Nicole Rodin and Sarah Girffith from Washington State University have been a huge asset to our team as they live out our mission and vision of promoting living a healthy life free from addiction and addressing gaps in the systems of care for those struggling with drug misuse. We caught up with them on International Women’s Day to hear how their work is vital in helping our community understand this disease.

What does Women International Day mean to you?


Sarah: Women are agents of change! We move mountains with touch, words, empathy, intelligence and perseverance. Women’s International Day draws the spotlight to the powerful work that women are already doing around and encourages all to see the needs around them and change the world. 


Nicole: International Women’s Day is an occasion to recognize all of the work that women do to make our communities a better place. Oftentimes this is done with silent passion and perseverance and it can be so powerful to take a minute to see all of the work that has been done.  It also serves as a way to show younger girls everything that is possible when this was not always the case. The female representation resonates before we can even identify that it does! 


Why are you passionate about the field you’re in? 


Sarah: I have been a nurse for the last 39 years. It is a field that has given me a platform to love others. I get to show love with my words and with my actions. In my specialty of community health, the love is shown by building bridges to groups on the margins.  Those bridges welcome others to get care, to improve their lives, to demand a fair share. As an educator, I have the privilege of growing nurses who also build bridges. 


Nicole: I (thankfully) stumbled into pharmacy without really knowing what I was getting into. This led me to have incredible mentors and strong, passionate teams around me that have really shaped me into the pharmacist that I am growing into today. Part of this work happened to be working with teams in grad school to educate about and prevent prescription misuse in the community. This is where my passion for substance use disorders started and has blossomed ever since!  


How does WSU partnership with the Rayce Rudeen Foundation to help us further educate our community about this drug epidemic? 


Sarah: My nursing students are working closely with RRF to create an online source for prevention, treatment and recovery resources. This has multiple benefits for WSU and the community. My nursing students are contributing but also growing in their understanding of the mountains that people with addiction face everyday. They will be more compassionate nurses as a result. In their work with RRF, they reach out to community partners which strengthens a web of support for those working with those with addiction. 


Nicole: RRF has been such a wonderful community partner in educating our community about the opioid crisis and now the fentanyl crisis. Their team is actively working to push the work forward with careful, strategic perseverance that helps maintain momentum in these efforts and inspire new efforts as well. Their team enables a lot of what’s able to get accomplished by uniting community efforts, funding important work, and creating tools to help our community increase their access to necessary tools and I am honored to be part of that! 


How would you help someone understand addiction?

Sarah Griffith: Addiction is a disease. As a disease, there needs to be a thorough assessment to determine the diagnosis and evidence-based treatments that show results. It is a disease and not a moral failing!

Nicole: Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. A lot of chronic diseases start as a choice (our eating habits, our smoking choices, etc.) and develop into the diseases they are. However, they are never treated with the type stigma and stipulations that substance use disorders are. There are evidence based treatments out there for these conditions and there is a lot of hope for recovery if we stop stigmatizing the treatment and disease.


Is there anything you’d like to share with the RRF audience?

Sarah: RRF is committed to connecting individuals and families to the resources needed to combat addiction. Support us in this effort to connect those in need with the treatment they need. Like all diseases, there is potential for a cure!


Nicole: RRF is making a lasting impact in our communities when addressing substance use disorders. With tangible results and powerful community partnerships, we are seeing a lot of progress and I personally can’t wait to see what they accomplish this year! Ro