West Virginia Public Broadcasting Published

CANCELED: Symposium Meant to Provide Hope in Fighting Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Concord University

UPDATE 3/20 5:30 PM – CANCELED: The symposium has been canceled due to weather. Organizers hope to reschedule this summer. 

There’s currently a shortage of social workers, foster parents, and solutions for the opioid epidemic; West Virginia, or central Appalachia, has been considered the epicenter of this challenge. The Concord University Social Work and Sociology Department is sponsoring the second annual Opioid Symposium.

The event is meant to unite resources to help combat the opioid addiction epidemic. Attendees looking for a way to combat the issue will have a chance to attend a symposium sponsored job fair focusing on fostering/adoptive jobs as well as non-profit and community development work. 

This year’s symposium theme is, “Providing Hope.” Folks looking for a way to help combat the issue, organizations serving the foster/adoptive system and the opioid crisis, volunteers, and even employees will host a job fair throughout the day at the symposium.

Scott Inghram, Assistant Professor of Social Work, said that “we often find ourselves discussing the crisis as a hopeless phenomenon instead of focusing our existing strengths within ourselves, our families, and our communities.” “If we are to make lasting, meaningful change, it is integral that we start by nurturing the seeds of hope planted throughout southern West Virginia,” he says.

Other symposium events include workshops featuring a West Virginia firefighter, former drug enforcement agency agent, state trooper, and church ministers who are fighting the epidemic. The workshops and the events throughout the day will provide up to six social work continuing education credits but everyone is welcome to attend.

The Oscar nominated Netflix documentary, “Heroin(e)” will also be shown – the film highlights the work of three Huntington women in the crisis. The film’s producer and Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon, and Jan Rader, Huntington’s Fire Chief, will be present for a short discussion after the film screening.

The day will conclude with a Town Hall discussion about solutions in and for our communities. The town hall panel participants represent various leaders associated with the response to the opioid epidemic.

The event will be held at University Point on Concord University’s Athens campus next Wednesday, March 21 and is free and open to the public.    

Here’s a rundown of the agenda: 

  • The morning sessions will consist of multiple concurrent workshops, the first from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., and the second, from 10:45 a.m. -12:15 p.m.
  • The screening of “Heroin(e)” is at 1:30 pm followed by a short discussion.
  • The town hall discussion featuring Michael Brumage, Director of the W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy. The Town Hall will begin at 2:45 pm and is hosted by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Inside Appalachia. 

Preregistration for this event is underway and is strongly encouraged but not required.