Opioid Symposiums to be Held Around Indiana

Drawing on experts in multiple disciplines from national, state and local levels, the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA) and AgrIInstitute will jointly host four regional high-impact opioid crisis symposiums in rural Indiana areas during July and August.

“This ongoing crisis continues to savagely and relentlessly penetrate every aspect of society in Indiana, including rural areas” said Don Kelso, IRHA executive director. “Professionals have come together from many disciplines to address this opioid health emergency, and we want to ensure that all Hoosiers have access to critical information and resources at all levels.”

“The intense attention being given to the opioid addiction crisis has helped many of us become better informed and more knowledgeable,” said Beth Archer, AgrIInstitute executive director. Emphasizing that this crisis “knows no boundaries,” Archer continued: “An important step in resolving this crisis is becoming better-informed citizens – that means becoming better informed about what each of us can do in our homes, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our churches, and elsewhere, so healthy living can again be possible for those whom we care about.”

The three symposiums are scheduled for July 26 at the Heartland REMC in Wabash; July 31 in Daviess County (Eastside Park in Washington); and August 2 at the C Bar C Expo Center in Putnam County (Cloverdale off I-70). Each symposium will begin with registration at 8:30 a, the program at 9 a.m., and will conclude by 4 p.m.

Key leaders and regional professionals involved in addressing the crisis will take part, including Jim McClelland, Indiana State Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement (who also chairs the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse); Michael Dora, USDA State Director, Rural Development for Indiana; Boone County Sheriff, Mike Neilson; Amnah Anwar, program director of the Indiana Rural Opioid Consortium (IROC); officials from the Dearborn County Jail Chemical Addiction Program (JCAP); along with various other professionals and social workers.

Kelso noted that AgrIInstitute and their Executive Director, Beth Archer, were the catalysts hosting a “very successful” symposium in January at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The program, largely supported by IRHA, focused on the statewide opioid crisis and left “standing room only.” This summer, AgrIInstitute, and IRHA have partnered together to extend information and program resources to other areas of the state.

“There is no single solution to this pervasive crisis, but many offers hope,” said Deena Dodd, IRHA Network Development Officer and an organizer of the opioid symposiums. “We collectively want to serve as a catalyst for strategic discussion and conversation between service providers, expert resources, law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals to help move us toward implementing targeted solutions and find resolution for this terrible ongoing tragedy.”

All events are open to the public. IRHA and AgrIInstitute officials specifically invite the participation of elected county officials, civic leaders, medical professionals, educators, agri-industry executives, members and leaders of religious organizations, and business leaders to attend. Each symposium will have morning and afternoon presentations and discussions, and a catered lunch from a local vendor will be served. A registration fee of $30 is being collected to cover the costs of materials and the lunch.

More information and a registration link are available online at https://www.indianaruralhealth.org/events

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