2018 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

Teresa Collado and I were among 3000 who recently attended the 2018 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.   Since 2012, this 4-day conference has brought together leaders in government, private industry, law enforcement, and health care as well as public/family advocates to focus on this crisis which has taken its toll on human life and our economy.  Among the keynote speakers was Bill Clinton who reminded us that “this [opioid epidemic] can rob our country of its future.”   Despite the weight of this crisis, it was still uplifting to experience the summit’s collective energy that I believe will contribute to our nation’s healing.   

During the summit, I attended a full day workshop on marijuana sponsored by SAM- Smart Approaches to Marijuana (https://learnaboutsam.org ).   Especially with Oklahoma SQ788 (medical marijuana) coming up for vote next month, learning from researchers, physicians, minority leaders, law enforcement, parents, and those in commercial sectors in states like Colorado was an important opportunity to review data and be informed on the issues.

 My opportunities also included an (unexpected) invitation from The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to participate in an off-conference parent roundtable.   Oklahoma-based Parents Helping Parents was one of 6 groups asked to share the parent journey, profile how our organizations are making a difference, and convey what parents and families are needing to combat this crisis. 

The various tracks offered at the summit included Prevention, Treatment, Advocacy, Pharmacy, PDMP & Data Surveillance, Law Enforcement & Corrections, Heroin & Other Illicit Drugs, Federal, Family/Pregnancy/Recovery, and Third-Party Payer.   I attended presentations across multiple tracks with the goal of broadening my overall knowledge and awareness.    There was much to absorb, and the summit has provided participants over 100 PowerPoint presentations which I have downloaded but am unable to share on public media due to conference regulations.    I intend to write a series of blogs highlighting some of these topics, and can share information on specific subjects upon individual request.    The broader goal of the conference, of course, is to take information back to our communities to fight this epidemic, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me at PHPNorman1@yahoo.com or 405-278-1221.

Ann Benson, MSW

Board Member, The Virtue Center

Board Member, Parents Helping Parents- Norman Chapter

Parent Volunteer, The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Melissa Simpson