Today decides tomorrow CollageSMALLThe Benton Police Department recently participated in, and was one of the sponsors of, a conference on drug abuse prevention and intervention programming. The “Today Decides Tomorrow” conference held at the Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock) campus, students and faculty from various state universities (Arkansas State University, Southern Arkansas University, etc.) joined in discussions on effective ways to proactively combat drug and alcohol abuse.

“We are a pain medicated society here in America … a lot of people are misdiagnosed and are treated with prescription drugs,” said guest speaker Mike Morrison, Baptist Health Hospital treatment specialist. “A lot of times college students abuse alcohol when the get that first time freedom away from home, and it can become very addictive. Alcohol is the most difficult and dangerous addition to detoxify from a person’s body."

Morrison discussed a multitude of addictions that people of all ages can experience, including caffeine. However, he said that he has noticed an increase in opioid (Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Methadone, etc.) addictions in recent years. Morrison said warning signs of opioid addiction is an addict will become active when taking opioids, as to which a person without a tolerance will normally be sleepy or drowsy. He also said that an addict will typically have flu like symptoms when they experience a long period of time without having the opioids.
Morrison discussed the dangers of the THC enhanced products, such as edibles or hash oil/earwax which is often 80%-90% stronger concentration than found in marijuana, can be fatal for people with certain diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He also warned that people are more likely to put themselves in danger when they take drugs or alcohol.

“We take risks we normally wouldn’t take when under the influence,” Morrison said. “Some people think they can even take over-the-counter medications, such as Benadryl, and then drive down to the store. Suddenly the drug takes affect while they are driving and [law enforcement] will get their attention quick.

“We can help people when they are ready for help. Recovery is not difficult, it’s a humbling experience. People who need it won’t recover, but those who want it will.”

The conference also had a second guest speaker, Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center Executive Director Jennifer Davis, who spoke about the dangers of prescription misuse and abuse. Davis spoke about her son KJ recovering from drug abuse and later becoming a guidance counselor for Christian ministries. But at 20 years of age, KJ died at church camp after ingesting his prescribed Prosac along with Methadone which was another person’s prescription.

“What you are hearing today, what you are feeling today, let that be enough,” Davis said. “Go and share what you’ve learned because chances are that you are going to know somebody that has abused drugs. Get help, there’s no shame in that.”

“No matter how many times I speak about this, no matter how many statistics I look up or people I think I might be able to help, no matter what I do in this lifetime, it will never change what happened and it will never bring my son back,” she added.

The conference also had three breakout session topics: The Art of Effective Decision Making; Training for Intervention Procedures designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking by enhancing the fundamental people skills of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol; and Bystander Intervention, to help participants learn how to speak up and take action if they encounter problems on college campuses (ex: sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, etc.) The conference was presented by the Arkansas Collegiate Drug Education with partnership from the Benton Police Department, Arkansas State Drug Director’s Office, Rotary International, Arkansas State University Counseling Center, and the Arkansas State Police. The conference was funded by the Arkansas Department of Behavioral Health Services.