Carroll's prevention professionals put in the time

The public health campaign to prevent and treat substance use disorders and underage drinking is a never-ending one, but there are committed local officials who are willing to put in the years of hard work. In one recent example, four years to be exact.

That's how long Carol Mullen and Amy Laugelli, who are substance abuse prevention coordinators at the Carroll County Health Department, have spent earning Certified Prevention Professional credentials, which they say illustrate the science and evidence behind the work they do.


That work includes coordinating the Opioid Prevention Coalition, the Carroll County Coalition Against Underage Drinking and providing education in schools, recovery facilities and the Carroll County Detention Center.

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The Times recently caught up with Mullen and Laugelli to learn more about their recent certification and the work they do in the community.

How long have each of you been working in the Bureau of Prevention, Wellness & Recovery at the Health Department and what are your roles there?

Mullen: Since 2011. I started as the Maryland Strategic Prevention Framework Coordinator for underage drinking prevention. My job title is substance abuse prevention coordinator. Currently I manage/coordinate the Opioid Misuse Prevention Program Grant, I coordinate the Opioid Prevention Coalition whose stakeholders and members implement the OMPP Strategic Plan of Prescriber Opioid Education, the Good Samaritan Law Education and the consequences of the nonmedical use of prescription narcotics, heroin and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, in our community.

I coordinate and co-chair the Local Overdose Fatality Review Team with our deputy health officer. I am a mental health first aid instructor and certified in naloxone administration through Operation Save A Life.

Laugelli: I have been working as a substance abuse prevention coordinator at the Carroll County Health Department for just over four years. My role is to facilitate weekly Guiding Good Choices parenting classes at the Carroll County Detention Center and Shoemaker Inpatient Treatment Facility. Guiding Good Choices is a model, evidence-based program that helps to break the cycle of addiction that can occur in families by educating parents on risk and protective factors for substance use, family management and involvement, and how to talk with children and teens about drugs and alcohol. The program also includes critical life skills like refusal skills and anger management that parents can teach to children but that also provide relapse prevention and recovery support.

I am also a guest speaker in Carroll County middle and high school health classes, teaching an approved substance abuse prevention curriculum. At the middle school level, we provide a skill-based education, including refusal skills, anger management, and a lesson on addiction and the brain. At the high school level students learn about addiction and current drug trends. I teach an alcohol education course at McDaniel College for students who receive citations. I also participate in numerous community and outreach events for the Prevention Office. In addition, I am a mental health first aid instructor.

You've each been certified as Certified Prevention Professionals with the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium. Could you explain briefly what that authority is and what it means to have earned this certification?

Laugelli and Mullen: The IC&RC is an organization that promotes public protection by developing internationally recognized credentials and examinations for prevention, substance use treatment and recovery professionals. The Certified Prevention Professional requires competence through work experience, supervision and testing in these domains: Planning and Evaluation, Prevention Education and Service Delivery, Communications, Community Organization, Public Policy and Environmental Change, and Professional Growth and Responsibility.

Mullen: Not many people realize substance abuse prevention is a science. There's a lot of knowledge behind what I do in the Strategic Prevention Framework Grant process of assessment, capacity building, planning, implementation and evaluation for opioid prevention and mobilizing the community to reduce overdoses. Being a CPP legitimizes what I do every day in the field of prevention.

Laugelli: This prevention certification gives additional credibility to the Prevention Office and the services we provide.

I understand it took many hours of training to earn this certification — could you explain a little bit about what the requirements were and how you went about fulfilling them?

Laugelli and Mullen: Here are the CPP Requirements:

•Work experience: Verification of two years (4,000 hours) of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention related experience.


•Training: Verification of 200 contact hours of prevention specific training — 50 hours must be alcohol, tobacco and other drug specific. Six hours of prevention specific ethics is required.

•Pass the CPP test.

Mullen: The application process started more than a year and a half ago, Amy and I had to submit our CEU's, verification of employment and letters of recommendation to the Maryland Association of Prevention Professionals and Advocates, who in turn sent the application to IC&RC. We received notice from MAPPA our applications were approved and IC&RC would contact us to determine a testing date and site. MAPPA also sent/recommended the study guides for the five testing domains: Planning and Evaluation, Prevention Education and Service Delivery, Communications, Community Organization, Public Policy and Environmental Change, and Professional Growth and Responsibility. Studying for the exam was a long, tedious process.

How will this certification affect the work that you do here at the Health Department? Are there things you learned through the process of earning the certification that were new, surprising, or just particularly useful to you in your daily work?

Laugelli and Mullen: We have greatly increased our knowledge of prevention planning processes and environmental strategies for prevention. We also gained a better understanding of selecting and implementing model, evidence-based prevention programs, including Guiding Good Choices, Staying Connected with Your Teen, Good Samaritan Law education and the naloxone program. All of the services provided by the Prevention Office team are free to the public. Contact Linda Auerback at 410-876-4803 for more information on services.

Each of you are on the front lines of the opioid addiction epidemic here in Carroll County. You've seen some of the recent successes with the use of naloxone to save people who otherwise would have died from overdoses, and yet there are still people dying and not getting the help they need. As we look at the coming new year, what are you hopeful about when it comes to prevention and recovery efforts here in Carroll County, and what areas do you think we need to work on more, perhaps a lot more?

Laugelli: Substance abuse prevention is everyone in the community working together creating a positive environment where someone does not choose to use drugs. I am hopeful that these important efforts continue to reduce the stigma around drugs and alcohol, so anyone who needs help can step forward and ask for it. I am hopeful that every person has the opportunity to learn critical life skills to prevent that initial use of drugs and alcohol but also to support people in recovery.


Mullen: Substance Abuse Prevention is a process that takes many years to see the fruits of our labor. It take a whole community working together as partners in prevention to protect our future generations. The outcome: adolescents make educated choices that affect their physical and mental health, are supported through family and community in the choices they make, and live healthy, drug-free lives.

Citizens need to have hope, recovery from addiction is possible. There are many community supports in place, one of the most vital are the Certified Peer Support Specialists in the Bureau of Prevention, Wellness and Recovery. The recovery peers are prevention advocates in action and proof that there is hope for recovery.