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Town hall meeting to focus on addiction

Krystle Wagner • Oct 2, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Several panelists will join the community for a town hall meeting next week about addiction.

The panelists will discuss what’s currently being done in regards to addiction and the opioid epidemic, what needs to happen, and how to accomplish it, said Extended Grace Executive Director Barbara Lee Van Horssen.

The meeting runs 6:30-9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave. 

Residents can also participate in a free Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training prior to the event, from 5-6 p.m. Pizza will be provided. To register for the QPR training, call 616-334-8894.

Panelists include: Sgt. Derek Gerencer of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office; Jonathan LaMaire of the Red Project; Judge Craig Bunce of Ottawa County’s sobriety court; Dan Qualls, an addiction therapist; Priscilla Shafor of adult drug treatment court/Ottagan Addictions Recovery; and Dr. Sandy Dettmann, a board-certified addiction medicine specialist.

— Gerencer will discuss addiction and drug trends, particularly heroin, as well as education and awareness.

— LaMaire will discuss why the “war on drugs” approach isn’t working, and he will discuss how other countries are handling the issues and the results they’re seeing.

— Bunce plans to discuss the logistics of sobriety court and what results officials are seeing as an outcome.

— Qualls will discuss the adult drug court and the roles of barriers, peers and resources as people get help.

— Shafor will discuss the need for group and family work to treat addictions.

— Dettmann, who has a private practice called The Dettmann Center PC, will provide an overview of the opioid epidemic and discuss what needs to be done to address it.

“Drug overdose has become the leading cause of death in people under the age of 50,” Dettmann said. “Addiction is a disease, and effective evidence-based treatment is available. I consider myself lucky as a physician to treat a disease that is largely preventable simply by education.”

Dettmann said that the meeting is about community, education and recognizing addiction as a disease, which she said has become systemic.

In working to stop the epidemic, Dettmann said there needs to be a new approach by stopping the shaming and blaming, and instead increase the awareness.

By participating in the upcoming meeting, Dettmann hopes the community “better understands this disease, supports people who are afflicted and helps them get on the road to recovery.”

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