To raise public consciousness about the harmful drugs found in the county, the coalition will hold its seventh annual Drug Awareness Summit next month on Oct. 18 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton. The summit will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. that Thursday.
“When we got things in the community such as drug addiction that affects everybody, you don’t have to be an addict,” said Reagen Clayton, director of CMAC. “You don’t have to be the victim of a crime. But if you’re a taxpayer, you’re being affected by drug addiction and the effects of it.”
This year’s summit will address the dangers of legal or not easily detected substances, including alcohol, prescription drugs and the rapidly changing world of synthetics.
“Legal does not equal safe,” the event’s flier reads.
Clayton said the summit averages about 500 participants each year, and he encourages people to register for the event as soon as possible on the coalition’s website.
The coalition, consisting of churches, schools, community agencies, businesses, local civic groups and non-profit organizations, has lined up three guest speakers for the event this year.
Dr. Ross Aikins, a postdoctoral fellow with the National Development and Research Institute in New York, will address trends in adolescent substance abuse.
“The person that’s addicted to a drug is not the same person family members come to know from birth and knowing that person’s personality,” Clayton said. “Once they become addicted to a drug, that’s a completely different person. There’s something in the body that changes their whole way of thinking, outlook on life and everything else. Then there’s yet another personality that comes after that [which] is the one in recovery and getting off the drugs.”
A public information officer from the Drug Enforcement Agency Atlanta field division, Chuvalo J. Truesdell, will speak on synthetic drugs and their growing preponderance in the U.S. and Georgia.
Finally, Bremen resident Lance Dyer, the founder and president of the Dakota Dyer Foundation, will share his fight against synthetic drugs following the death of his son earlier this year.
“A lot of times, people are at a loss for options and suggestions of how to even confront an addict,” Clayton said. “How do you approach somebody? The time someone starts getting identified as being addicted to a drug, they’re often argumentative, combative, violent and it scares away people that love that person and want to help, but don’t know how to approach that person and do it safely.”
While it can be heartbreaking for families to see a loved one going to jail for drug use, he said sending that person to jail will help keep the community and the individual safe.
“It’s still the starting point where somebody can realize how to get clean,” Clayton said.
To register for the summit, go to www.carrollsubstanceabuse.org. There is no charge for attendance. Call 770-832-9140 for more information.
“We are so pleased to able to present another educational and informative event for our community,” Clayton said.