Market Overview

As Opioid Overdose Death Rates Rise, More Are Turning to "Natural High"


Since the late 1990's, when what is now a full-blown opioid epidemic is
believed to have taken root, tens of thousands of educators nationwide
have increasingly turned toward guiding their students to cultivate
"natural highs." Natural highs are activities that naturally raise
endorphins, instead of drugs or alcohol.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Trends since opioid epidemic began (Graphic: Business Wire)

Trends since opioid epidemic began (Graphic: Business Wire)

The San Diego-based nonprofit Natural
began reaching out to young people in 1997 at school assemblies
– using just a slide projector. In the decades since then, as overdose
have skyrocketed, nearly 36,000 educators nationwide have
turned to Natural High's free online, video and print tools, which
encourage teen and pre-teen students to raise their own endorphins. And
as the overdose death rate has shown a steep increase in the last four
years, so has educator reliance on Natural High resources.

This trend was identified on the heels of the Centers for Disease
Control's release last week of its latest data showing 2017 to be the
worst year yet for drug overdoses – 72,000 – since the opioid epidemic
took root in the late ‘90's.

Natural High seeks to engage adults who can help young people find their
"Natural High," including the skills and courage to avoid drugs and
alcohol and live life well. Natural High brings some 40
and counting – like professional skateboarder Tony Hawk,
surfer Bethany Hamilton, and fashion designer Lauren Conrad – to young
people to talk about the highs they get through sports, art,
entertainment, fashion, and otherwise, and how it feels to live drug

In addition, Natural High materials are designed to help students
themselves to go on to discover and live their own passions, whether
that is art, sports, religion, music or environmental causes, or other
healthful pursuits. Along with showing free celebrity videos to their
students, teachers can also take advantage of free
online discussion guides and hands-on exercises

"It is common sense that to ward off addiction, we must give young
people something better," said Natural High Founder Jon
, who lost two brothers to drug addictions, and is an active
surfer. "We harness the combined power of celebrities, mentors, and
educators to dramatically influence young people to make healthy life

The organization also reported that nationwide, among the states that
claim both some of the highest
2017 rises in overdose deaths
and the largest concentrations
of people who have tapped into Natural High are:

  • Illinois – saw a 10 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2017
  • New Jersey – saw a 24 percent increase in overdose deaths in
  • Ohio – mostly southwest and northeast parts of the state, saw a
    nine percent increase in overdose deaths in 2017
  • Pennsylvania – mostly western parts of the state, saw an eight
    percent increase in overdose deaths in 2017
  • Wisconsin – saw a seven percent increase in overdose deaths in
    2017. Wisconsinites also spend substantially more time on the Natural
    High website than people in any other state.

Research out of Iceland
– considered the best example in the world of wide-scale success in
curbing addiction – shows that if young people discover their passions
and are directly engaged in a compelling way by people they look up to
and trust, they are more likely to make positive life choices and much
less likely to choose drugs and alcohol.

"Recently the drug epidemic at my school has increased, and is
continuing to do so," said an anonymous high school junior using Natural
High. "I honestly believe that the only reason I don't fall into that
group of people is because of you guys… you have truly directed my life
in the right direction; this is an absolutely amazing, life-changing

Some 85 percent of youth participating in the program reported that
having a natural high will help fight the temptation to use drugs or
alcohol, according to a 2014 impact study by Harder + Company Community
Research. Natural High was launched in 1994 (originally as the Sundt
Memorial Foundation).

Available for interviews: Founder
Jon Sundt
, Executive
Director Gina Morris

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