Harford County held its annual Drug Prevention, Intervention & Treatment Symposium Thursday at Bel Air High School.
This year’s day-long symposium featured speakers and workshops for adults and teenagers. This was the first year programs specifically geared to 14-18 year olds were presented.
More than 300 people attended, organizers said.
Featured speakers included “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” comedian Dion Flynn and Joe Rannazzisi, the retired DEA senior executive, who helped expose the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the opioid epidemic.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman provided an overview of the crisis and response in Harford County, and Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, senior commander at Aberdeen Proving Ground, talked about leadership in times of crisis.
Rannazzisi, a former DEA official who has charged the pharmaceutical industry with culpability in the opiate epidemic, was the keynote speaker for the 14th annual symposium. He discussed his findings and goals to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.
A vast array of topics were presented at this year’s morning and afternoon workshops with titles including: Substance Abuse Prevention and Suicide Prevention; Vicarious Trauma and Workplace Resilience; Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution; Relapse Prevention; and Spirituality and Recovery from a Neuroscience Perspective.
Throughout the day, participants were also able to visit and network with 20 different exhibitors, according to a news release from Harford County government.
New to the symposium this year, was the I’M POWER’D Youth Summit, a series of workshops developed for teens.
Topics included bullying, mental health, managing stress, fostering a healthy self-image, and social media safety. Twenty-seven young adults from throughout the County participated in the youth programming, according to organizers.
The final plenary address featured Dion Flynn, a former Harford County Public Schools student, known for his appearances as Barack Obama on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Flynn is in long-term recovery and was cited by Oprah Magazine as “one of our favorite creative thinkers”; he presented his improv recovery workshop at the symposium.
“Our symposium is an important component of Harford County’s awareness strategy,” Glassman said following the event. “We truly appreciate the tremendous support from our partners, special guests, and everyone who attended.”
The Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy holds the yearly symposium to educate professionals and the public on issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse.
In addition to a keynote speaker, the free conference offers continuing education credits for professionals in the fields of addiction, prevention, professional counseling and social work. Attendees benefit from learning about the latest developments, approaches and techniques. The symposium is held in partnership with the Harford County Health Department, Harford County Public Schools, and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
For more information about drug abuse prevention and awareness programming in Harford County, contact the Office of Drug Control Policy at 410-638-3333, or www.harfordcountymd.gov/ODCP.