In its eighth year, the Carroll Meth Awareness Coalition has turned the theme of its annual drug awareness summit to focus on the unit that makes up all communities — the family.
This year’s summit, to be held Oct. 17 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, will focus on the impact drug and alcohol abuse has on local families, identifying strategies family members can use to identify addiction problems within their families and steps they can take to get their loved ones into treatment.
Inv. Reagen Clayton, chairman of CMAC, said crafting the summit’s theme was a process of identifying why the CMAC itself exists.
“It was all about meth in the beginning, and then as the years went by, we realized we couldn’t talk about meth without talking about other drugs,” Clayton said. “We wanted a theme to answer the question, ‘Why are we here?’ It’s for our communities, and that’s our families. We want to focus on and prevent everything that tears our families apart.”
To register for the summit, visit www.carrollsubstanceabuse.org. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m., and the summit will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 17. There is no deadline for registration.
Lined up are four speakers — Donna Johnson, Joy Williams, Tracy Wilson and a speaker who is only being identified as Eric P. — who will cover a wide spectrum of addiction and recovery, Clayton said. The summit usually attracts around 500 attendees throughout the day.
The program will introduce innovative neuroscience approaches to the treatment of addiction, specifically looking at how new research and medications are helping to eliminate cravings, which typically are the root causes of relapses. Also discussed (primarily by the final speaker) will be the personal story of a journey through meth addiction and recovery addressing not only the impact on the individual but also the family.
Clayton said the awareness summit is about keeping the addiction “in the spotlight” and on the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“We try to remind everyone to keep talking about it,” Clayton said. “Like with taxes, you can quit talking about taxes, but that won’t make them go away.”
The “million-dollar question” the chairman hopes the summit answers is one he’s heard a countless number of times.
“I get approached by a lot of people who say their loved one has become addicted to some kind of substance, and they ask what they can do,” Clayton said. “Many times, addiction goes undetected for several years, and then once it’s found out, it’s the biggest problem in that family’s world. That’s what we’ll be tackling, what the family can do to respond to an addiction and prevent it from ever happening.”
While those who have already been affected by drug addiction are obviously the main target audience for the summit, Clayton said everyone in the community is encouraged to attend.
“For a person who doesn’t think drug addiction affects them, it affects everyone as taxpayers and as members of the community,” he said. “We encourage everyone to learn more about our community and our society as a whole. The best of upbringings can’t prevent addiction — it knows no boundaries.”
Donna L. Johnson is the owner of Addiction Solutions in Cartersville. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and Nashville Law School, Donna has 25 years experience in the fields of addiction and criminal justice. She provides specialized treatment for those suffering from methamphetamine addiction.
A nationally recognized advocate for substance abuse recovery as a certified addiction specialist, Johnson will speak on new trends in treatment from 8:30 to 10 a.m.
From 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., attendees will hear from Joy Williams, a Stone Mountain resident who is an active member in both Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, an international fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experiences to solve their common problems. A sponsor of other women in both organizations, Williams’ primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to those still suffering.
Williams will be speaking on the role of Al-Anon and addiction in the family.
Tracy C. Wilson, a University of West Georgia graduate, has provided substance abuse treatment services for probation, parole and other court agencies since 1998. A founding member of the Carroll County Drug Court and CMAC, Wilson established Resolutions Counseling on Bradley Street in 1995.
From 1 to 2 p.m., Wilson will speak on prevention, education and treatment for families at the summit.
The summit’s final speaker will be Eric P., a Douglas County resident and active member of a 12-step recovery group. Eric (whose last name will remain unidentified) has been clean from meth for nine years, with his former life consisting of jails and other institutions.
Today, Eric is dedicated to helping those who are still suffering from addictions to find a solution. Eric will speak from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the impact of meth addiction and the journey of recovery.
Those interested who cannot attend the summit for the whole day are encouraged to drop in whenever they are able, Clayton said.
“We encourage them to come in on their lunch hour or whenever, and at least visit our exhibitors and vendors, who will have lots of valuable information they can take advantage of,” the chairman said. “We’re looking forward to having an enjoyable time and hopefully change some lives.”