Pregnancies the focus of drug summit
HUNTINGTON -- In Lynn Ormiston's eyes, some of the hardest hit victims of substance abuse are essentially unable to communicate their struggles.
For the newborn babies who have been exposed to drug use during a pregnancy, substance abuse can be a lifelong battle from day one, said Ormiston, who is the program director for the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership.
That is why she and other organizers of CCSAPP's 7th annual Cabell County Drug Prevention Summit are hoping to find ways to give those infants a new lease on life during the event from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center. The summit is free and open to the public
The topics listed for the event include drug-exposed pregnancies, fetal alcohol exposure, and prescription drug abuse and misuse. Experts will speak on those issues, and attendees will be asked to participate in discussions aimed at developing solutions that could lead to action plans later.
The formation of CCSAPP, a coalition under the umbrella of the United Way of the River Cities, and the annual drug summits came amid growing concern about increased drug trafficking and substance abuse in the Huntington area and the crime that usually goes with it.
Previous drug summits have led to such efforts as the Healing Place of Huntington, a treatment center to help people with addictions, and have raised awareness of various problems, such as teen use of alcohol and drugs.
The issues raised by this summit receive a lot of attention locally, Ormiston said, and the problem is increasing on the national level, too.
"Sometimes we don't think about the population that is most vulnerable," said Ormiston. "In this case it is the women who are pregnant who are in need of special care, and their infants especially are in need of very special care. We hope people will take away the understanding that substance abuse affects all ages."
Presenting during the summit will be Dr. David Chaffin Jr., director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine; Dr. Sean Loudin, pediatric clerkship director of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology at the school of medicine; and Lenard Kaye, a professor at the University of Maine School of Social Work and director of the university's Center on Aging.
Ormiston said Chaffin and Loudin have worked closely in addressing the topic of drug-exposed pregnancies in addition to taking presentations on the topic throughout the country.
Kaye's area of expertise focuses on prevention strategies regarding prescription drugs, and Ormiston said he has a multitude of data to present during the summit as well as drug prevention techniques that have been successful in other parts of the country.
Those who wish to participate can register by calling 304-523-8929 ext. 5 or 9.
Ormiston encouraged anyone who is curious about substance abuse prevention or someone who is interested in helping women and children to participate.
She said the event is as much about making people aware of the problem as it is focusing on ways to solve it.
"I think it is something that people don't know anything about unless they are involved with children or they work in a health care setting," Ormiston said. "When most people think of substance abuse, they think of the person who is doing the abuse as opposed to the impact on the unborn infant that didn't have any involvement in using the drugs but is actually being affected by it."
She said the sessions that take place during the summit will be filled with useful and new information on a spreading problem.
At the end of the sessions, there will be a group activity during which participants will be able to apply the information they received to the challenges they face in their drug prevention efforts.
"What we are always hoping is that we will be able to identify new areas and ideas to explore that will be beneficial in the prevention effort," said Ormiston. "Maybe we will be able to identify gaps in the system and be able to turn attention to services that will be beneficial."
If you go
WHAT: 7th Annual Cabell County Drug Prevention Summit, presented by the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership.
WHEN: 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11.
WHERE: Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, along 3rd Avenue, Huntington.
TO ATTEND: It's free and open to the public, but registration is requested. To register or obtain more information, call 304-523-8929, ext. 5 or 9.
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