Opioid forum scheduled

ALAMOSA — Communities That Care wants as many people as possible to participate in their substance abuse forum next week in order to move residents to action. They're aiming to educate the public about the opioid epidemic, connect resources, recruit volunteers and inspire hope.

"We're excited about this because we're trying to pull our community together," said Alamosa County Public Health Nurse Ann-Marie Peterson, the facilitator of the local Communities that Care Group. "The big questions is, 'what if we don't pull this community together?' What happens? We want to change our community and work on this problem that is a complex issue and no one person has the solutions."

The evening will start with personal stories from people who have been affected by addiction followed by Reginaldo Garcia, a researcher with University of Colorado Denver, presenting an overview on substance abuse. Then a panel of roughly 20 people will discuss their individual efforts and how the community can get involved with agencies such as La Puente or the Center for Restorative Programs.

For instance, Alamosa School District's Students Against Destructive Decisions club will be there along with San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center Nurse Coordinator Charlotte Ledonne, who will discuss how naloxone treats overdose.

Finally, the forum will close with a facilitated conversation in hopes of connecting people to someone who can address or prevent the problems in the community.

"We can talk among ourselves and apply for grants but does that mean we know what's going to be best for the whole community?" said Alamosa County Public Health Nurse Beverly Strnad. "I'm not that good. We need to hear what the community thinks."

The forum will be Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Adam State University's Carson Auditorium inside the Student Union Building at First Street and Monterey Avenue.