Frederick community partners to hold opioid addiction summit

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The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick County Health Department and Frederick County Chamber of Commerce will join forces to bring education and awareness about the current opioid epidemic affecting the county and country as a whole.

Frederick Stands Together: Conquering the Crisis will bring speakers, Narcan training, and informational tools and resources to the Frederick Fairgrounds on Thursday night.

The idea behind the summit on opioid use disorder is to provide more information to county residents, said Jay Hessler, a coordinator for the local addiction authority and one of the night’s speakers. People in the county are aware of the opioid crisis, but they are not always equipped with the tools that would allow them to help address it, he said.

“I think everyone understands the dire nature of the situation that we’re in,” he said. “And I think honestly, people want to help. I don’t think anyone wants this to continue. I think people understand that people are suffering, and they’re dying.”

And while people acknowledge the problem, they have a harder time understanding the scope or the difficulty associated with opioid use disorder, Hessler said.

“It is not as easy as stop using the drugs. It’s a lot more complicated,” he said. “And I think when people understand that, there will be a lot less intolerance and frustration with people who struggle with continued use.”

Hessler will discuss why opioids are so difficult to stop using, why opioid use disorder is challenging and ways that everyone can help. He will be joined by other speakers, including a doctor who will discuss the neuroscience behind addiction, those in recovery and a mother. Continuous Narcan (naloxone) training will be provided by the health department.

Attendees can expect to come away with more knowledge of the situation, what they can do and the next steps, Hessler said.

The summit is being put on by multiple partners, showing that the problem is not something that will be solved by just the health department or just the sheriff’s office. It is important that the community comes together in order to make progress, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Taylor Clarke said.

“It’s really been a collaborative effort,” she said.

The chamber’s involvement helped to make the summit a reality, Clarke said. They brought the business side to help address the opioid problem, she said.

“Everyone is involved, whether you work, play or live here,” she said.

Although the summit starts at 4 p.m., Clarke said people are free to show up whenever they like. Speakers will start at 4:30 p.m., so those who want to listen to the presentations should plan to arrive before then.

There will be two food trucks to help keep people fed, she said.

Clarke is looking forward to the turnout. While the event is aimed at Frederick County residents, doors are open to those from neighboring counties, she said.

“It is important because it’s everyone’s duty to help out when you can,” she said.

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