Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege Big Pur­ple Day unites Shore

Kent County News - - NEWS - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­costa@ches­pub.com

WYE MILLS — Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege fac­ulty and staff hosted Big Pur­ple Day at the Wye Mills cam­pus on Mon­day invit­ing stu­dents to stand up against sub­stance abuse.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Go Pur­ple cam­paigns, in­clud­ing sher­iffs from Caro­line, Dorch­ester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Tal­bot coun­ties were on cam­pus at the Caro­line Cen­ter to share ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als with stu­dents. They helped those seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion on sub­stance abuse preven­tion, coun­sel­ing and treat­ment re­sources avail­able for fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

This is year two for the ini­tia­tive in Tal­bot County. Dorch­ester, Queen Anne’s, Caro­line and Kent coun­ties went pur­ple for the first time this year to fight the opi­oid cri­sis.

“I hope the col­lege stu­dents take away that we raise the aware­ness about the opi­oid epi­demic, the path to ad­dic­tion and how peo­ple be­come ad­dicted,” said Tal­bot County Sher­iff Joe Gam­ble. “We care about them, and we are here be­cause we want to ed­u­cate them and lower the ad­dic­tion rates.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Health, there were 2,282 drug and al­co­hol­re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in the state in 2017 — 2,009 of those were opi­oid-re­lated. Pre­lim­i­nary data from the first three months of 2018 in­di­cate there were 653 un­in­ten­tional drug- and al­co­hol­re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in Mary­land. There were 579 opi­oid-re­lated deaths, 500 of which in­volved fen­tanyl.

The Amer­i­can Col­lege Health As­so­ci­a­tion stated in its 2016 guide­line re­port, “Opi­oid Pre­scrib­ing in Col­lege Health,” that be­tween 7 and 12 per­cent of col­lege stu­dents re­ported us­ing opi­oids for non-med­i­cal rea­sons and 2 to 3 per­cent re­ported mov­ing from us­ing pre­scrip­tion opi­oids to heroin.

Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege has been “Pur­ple” through­out Septem­ber with in­for­ma­tional sig­nage and events. There is col­ored light­ing through- out cam­pus and mem­bers of the school com­mu­nity have been wear­ing pur­ple and en­gag­ing in dis­cus­sions on sub­stance abuse.

“We have a very strong part­ner­ship with our lo­cal law en­force­ment be­cause of our ru­ral lo­ca­tion,” said Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege Pres­i­dent Clif­ford Cop­per­smith. “The Mid-Shore has had a lot of prob­lems. It is a prob­lem for all ages, but par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple, it is a real chal­lenge. Go­ing pur­ple brings at­ten­tion to be­cause it des­tig­ma­tizes get­ting help.”

Kent County Sher­iff John F. Price said Big Pur­ple Day would be an op­por­tu­nity for the Mid-Shore to unite as a whole, rather than sep­a­rated by county.

“Kent Goes Pur­ple and all of the pur­ple cam­paigns on the Shore give an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage all of the com­mu­nity,” said Price. “We are very hon­ored that Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege could dis­play to the col­lege com­mu­nity ex­actly what we are do­ing in Kent County.”

The Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and the Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege Mac­queen Gibbs Wil­lis Nurs­ing Pro­gram Class of 2019 helped in­di­vid­u­als safely dis­pose of old and un­used pre­scrip­tions dur­ing the Big Pur­ple Day event.

Keep­ing un­used med­i­ca­tions such as opi­oids in the home can lead to theft and abuse. When flushed down the toi­let or thrown in the trash, med­i­ca­tions can con­tam­i­nate the en­vi­ron­ment and wa­ter sup­ply.

Stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff also had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in Nar­can train- ing and were taught how to ad­min­is­ter the life-sav­ing med­i­ca­tion to over­dose vic­tims.

Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff Gary Hof­mann spoke about the im­por­tance of bring­ing aware­ness ef­forts to schools, mak­ing the com- mu­nity out­reach ef­fort more com­plete.

Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds is proud to see the growth the pur­ple cam­paign has car­ried in its se­cond year. Although it is the first year of Caro­line County, Bounds said it is great to drive around and see the Mid-Shore com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pat­ing in events, in­clud­ing dis­play­ing pur­ple lights.

“The com­mu­nity has been en­gaged on a much larger scale than we have an­tic­i­pated in our first wave of this,” Bounds said. “We of­ten as­sume that many peo­ple are aware of the sit­u­a­tion; and we found out that go­ing out and speak­ing with the pub­lic (that) they are truly not aware of the ex­tent the abuse of opi­oids and how that leads to heroin abuse or il­le­gal use of heroin. Tal­bot did a good job of set­ting the bar high, and give us big shoes to fill.”

Dorch­ester County Sher­iff James Phillips shared the same sen­ti­ment as Bounds and em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of ap­proach­ing the com­mu­nity in a dif­fer­ent way about the opi­oid cri­sis.

“It’s im­por­tant to reach out to the com­mu­nity be­cause it has not been work­ing out the way we have been do­ing things,” Phillips said. “I hope that those who at­tend to­day’s event learn to stay away from opi­oids.”

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA ACOSTA

From left, Tal­bot County Sher­iff Joe Gam­ble, Lu­cie Hughes of Tide­wa­ter Ro­tary, Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds, Caro­line Goes Pur­ple Project Man­ager Jen­nifer Fa­rina, Kent County Sher­iff John Price, Chestertown Ro­tarar­ian An­drew Mee­han, Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff Gary Hof­mann, Queen Anne’s County Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Linda Fri­day, Dorch­ester County Sher­iff James Phillips and Dorch­ester County Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Bill Christo­pher unite for Big Pur­ple Day at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege.

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