On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, the Harford County Department of Community Services, Office of Drug Control Policy, held its highly popular annual Symposium on Drug Prevention, Intervention and Treatment at Bel Air High School. Nearly 250 attended (registration reached its capacity a week before the registration deadline), to learn about relevant and timely issues taking place in not only our county, but nationwide.
This year’s theme was “Rising Above the Trends, Breaking the Cycle,” and focused on topics such as suicide prevention, bullying, substance abuse and internet safety, to name just a few.
The yearly symposium explores current health and safety issues facing our youth in Harford County. These concerns generate the topics of the workshops that are useful to social workers, drug counselors, nurses, educators, and the public. The topics chosen this year enabled participants to expand their knowledge on issues such as mediation and problem solving, bullying, and the latest trends in drug and alcohol abuse, intervention, prevention and treatment.
The Plenary Address focused on bullying and how area youth need adults to understand, engage and react to this widespread issue. Davita Carpenter (keynote), a versatile speaker, author and entrepreneur, spoke about how technology is allowing bullying to take on a greater scope in the lives of our children, and how we need to actively listen to what our youth have to say about bullying.
Susan Fisher, Mediation Coordinator for Harford County (Department of Community Services, Community Mediation Program), presented an interactive session on how to use mediation, including strategic and reflective listening techniques, to help others learn to resolve their conflicts through peaceful alternatives.
Locally, over the past five years, 55% of the drug and alcohol overdose deaths of Harford County residents were related to prescription drug overdoses. Prescription Drug Abuse, a hot topic nationwide, was addressed in Abuse of Prescription & Over the Counter Drugs, presented by Dr. Jason Noel, Assistant Professor with the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Maryland.
A panel discussion on Uniting to Make and Impact to Break the Cycle of Underage Drinking in Harford County presented the disturbing results of a statewide survey showing that students in Harford County are abusing alcohol and binge drinking at a higher rate than state average. The panel highlighted what is being done and how everyone can become part of the campaign to change the current trend.
“A top priority of this administration is to place Harford County as a leader in current health and safety issues,” stated Harford County Executive David Craig. “This annual symposium brings to light the issues we need to understand, showcases the experts we have available, and instructs participants on ways in which they can make a positive change.”
“We were extremely pleased by the turnout of this year’s Symposium,” stated Joe Ryan, Manager, Office of Drug Control Policy, Department of Community Services. “The overwhelming response shows us that people are becoming more aware of the importance of these issues, and that they want to take part in solving the bullying, prescription drug abuse, and underage drinking problems taking place in our county.”
For more about these issues, how you can help, or to learn what you missed at the Symposium, contact [email protected] or 410-638-3333.