Chera Yoon & Chloe Shader
October 31, 2017
HC DrugFree, an organization that aims reduce inappropriate drug usage in Howard County, held an informational talk for parents and adults at Marriotts Ridge High School on Thursday, October 19 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.
The event began with various experts voluntarily speaking with the hopes of spreading awareness about the severity of drug abuse, as well as sharing the group’s collective goals. As a result, the advocates shared direct information on substance abuse from a deputy state’s attorney, a defense lawyer, a police officer, a magistrate, a psychologist, and a former addict.
“Addiction does not discriminate,” spoke a recovering opioid addict. “None of your children are an exception.” Likewise, as he shared his personal experiences to the audience, the individual sought to further accentuate the dangers of drug abuse.
Moreover, Howard County Police Captain, Jim Marshall, elicited evidence that showed that in 2017 “between January 1 and August 20 there were 34 alcohol and drug overdose deaths, 31 opioid- related deaths (including 29 heroin), and 104 non-fatal opioid overdoses in Howard County.”
The speakers also put forth numerous suggestions as to how different groups could help prevent the recurrent trend surrounding student substance abuse.
A unique method they introduced for families was developing a “secret code” to be used when a child was in an uncomfortable situation due to drugs. The private message would immediately let the parent(s) know of the student’s desire to return home, easing communication and curbing embarrassment.
Joan Webb Scornaienchi, the executive director of HC DrugFree, further said that locking up medication as well as disposing expired materials is “one of the best and easiest” things parents could do to discourage inappropriate drug use. In mentioning that addiction often starts by what is “most convenient and accessible,” Scornaienchi believes that securing these substances will make houses much safer. HC DrugFree additionally plans Drug Take Back Days on a regular basis as an effort to provide families with a quick, easy, and safe way to rid of unwanted medication, such as EpiPens or other needles.
According to HC DrugFree, ¾ of heroin addicts began their journey with professionally prescribed pain medication, which stresses the urgency of locking up medication.
Two mothers of former high school students shared their stories about each of their sons’ tragic deaths due to drinking and drug use. They spoke at the event with sincere ambitions to prevent other families from suffering a similar loss. They stressed the abundance of resources available to teenagers in need of assistance: consulting doctors or guidance counselors, calling the national helpline for substance abuse, or joining HC DrugFree’s Teen Advisory Council, where high schools learn more about addiction and the factors surrounding the issue.
Inappropriate drug use is very real, but together we can help prevent it. In the words of a recovering addict, “There is hope.”
Interested in The HC DrugFree Teen Advisory Council? Apply at http://www.hcdrugfree.org/teen-advisory-council-1/. They meet monthly at The Barn in the Oakland Mills Village Center. Free pizza is provided and you may earn service hours.