UMass Dartmouth holds summit for substance abuse help


By Zack Downing, Staff Writer

On Thursday, September 28, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will be hosting the “Regional Substance Abuse Disorders Summit for Young Adults: Health, Hope and Recovery”.

It’s an all-day event that serves three purposes: to discourage students from getting into addictive and abusive habits, to instruct parents and adults how to help those who are struggling, and to directly help those who are addicted.

The day will begin in the morning, at 8:30 a.m., with visitor’s registration. At 9:00 a.m., Chancellor Robert Johnson will welcome the crowd and introduce a guest speaker, a Boston College student, who is in the midst of recovering from substance abuse.

Afterwards, Dr. Donna White will give a talk on humane and caring ways to help those who have addictive disorders. It’s not uncommon for people to treat those who are addicted coldly or aggressively, and she will help the caretakers in the audience recognize new ways to help.

Dr. White will then moderate a panel that hits closer to home at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a panel discussing what substance abuse looks like at college.

On the panel will be a couple of local police officers that have experience dealing with struggling college students, as well as Andrew Robinson, who is a manager on the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

Many young adults, perhaps even the majority, would tell you that marijuana is a non-addictive, harmless drug and it isn’t something to worry about. However, Professor Kathy Elliott, registered nurse and one of the event’s organizers, would say otherwise.

“It ‘wets your whistle’ so to speak, to take pills and to try worse drugs,” she told The Torch, “it also has been proven to negatively affect your brain academically and socially. Some studies have also shown it raises the risk of diabetes.”

After a break for lunch, cardiologist Michael Rocha will host a panel on the prevention and harm reduction of drug use. One of the panelists discussing prevention will be Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn.

The last talk of the conference will be the most important, directly speaking to college students to engage them in the fight against drug addiction. Speaking will be Captain Timothy Sheehan of the UMass D police department, along with Professor Dennis Roderick of the Criminal Justice department.

Registered nurse Callie Nunez, who graduated from the nursing program at UMass Dartmouth with the class of 2017, will also be talking to the audience as a voice that current students can trust and relate to.

At the end of the day, from 3:00 PM to 4:00, will be a course in Narcan training. Narcan is a nasal spray that can treat overdoses of certain drugs, and it’s essential to learn how to administer it in a dangerous situation.

It’s also important to note that you have to register for the Narcan training course separately, so don’t miss out on your chance to join training.

If you know someone who is struggling with substance abuse, or you are struggling with it yourself, come to the Regional Substance Abuse Disorders Summit for Young Adults: Health, Hope and Recovery. It could be the most important thing you do at college.

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