Addiction education event nears

WEIRTON – Never Alone WV is sponsoring a three hour “Many Faces of Addiction” learning event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 16 at Madonna High School.

Organizer Patti Barnabei said the nonprofit, Christian-based group has planned a range of activities to educate the community, particularly young people, about drug and alcohol addiction.

The evening will kick off with a 45-minute health fair, from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., offering many community professionals to share resources and information, answer questions and raise awareness of addiction. Among those participating in the health fare will be Family Connections; Miracles Happen -Healthways, Inc.; Wellspring Family Services; Northwood Health Systems; Trinity Behavioral Medicine and Recovery; Attorney Amanda Messler; Amanda Patalone, Weirton Medical Center Pharmacy; Eric Zaney of Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad; Lighthouse Domestic Violence Shelter Outreach; A Child’s Place Court-Appointed Special Advocate; Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher; Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson; Jefferson Behavioral Health Systems; LNB Fit-Live and Be FIT featuring The Diet Doc; James Stock, West Virginia First Circuit Northern Panhandle Drug Court Coordinator and parole officer; and Jody Mankowski, West Virginia First Circuit Northern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court Coordinator.

The addiction workshop, which begins at 6:45 p.m., will feature Frank Kros, a former child care worker, child abuse investigator, children’s home administrator, consultant, college professor, attorney and writer.

His talk, “Trouble Letting Go,” will explore why adolescent brains are highly sensitive and more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, nicotine and drugs than adults. As a result, they often have “trouble letting go” of chemical use even after it has negatively impacted their lives and the lives of those who love and care for them.

The unique physical processes the brain uses to try and “fight off” continued use of intoxicating chemicals frequently produces confusing and frustrating behavior. The workshop will examine why the vulnerability exists, explain the brain’s response in understandable terms and provide parents and professionals with practical actions they can take to both prevent addiction and to help adolescents recover once addiction occurs.

He’ll also discuss how adults and communities enable addicts to continue abusing chemicals and what can be done differently to promote personal responsibility, integrity and service in adolescents.

Highlights of the discussion will be data reflecting teenage addiction in West Virginia and the community; the reality of addiction versus the common myths about kids and chemical use; discussion of the biggest risk factors for teen addictions and what adults should be looking for; and sharing with participants what to do to build an effective preventive program.

Kros is president of The Upside Down Organization and executive vice president of The Children’s Guild, a multi-service children’s organization headquartered in Maryland. The health fair and seminar are free.

For more information, contact Barnabei at (304) 797-1579.