Opiate abuse has become a national health emergency, and Manatee County has been especially hard hit with one of the nation’s highest rates of opiate overdose deaths.
Tackling this crisis is a top concern of health professionals and advocates, including mental health counselors.
That is why professionals from health, community service programs and law enforcement will gather Saturday, Feb. 23, at USF Sarasota-Manatee  to discuss strategies to fight this epidemic, raise awareness and promote addiction treatment services.
The conference, “Releasing the Chokehold: Opiate Use Nationally and in our Communities,” is open to the public and features notable panelists, including Nathan Scott, the child-welfare policy coordinator at the Family Safety Alliance; Sara Smith, a marriage and family therapist at the Miami Rescue Mission; and Det. Carl Jones of the Bradenton Police Department.
Behavioral health advocate and activist Leah Hill, who collaborated on the Surgeon General’s recent opiates panel, will deliver the keynote address.
“Leah is a dynamic and well-informed speaker who has graciously agreed to meet with us to discuss this critical issue and offer us her thoughts and insights,” said Dr. Jane Roberts, who chairs the Duvall Family Studies program at USF Sarasota-Manatee. “We are fortunate to have her here.”
The Duvall program sponsors the annual Family Studies Conference, including this upcoming event. The conference runs Feb. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Selby Auditorium at the USFSM campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $25, which includes morning pastries, coffee and lunch, and must be purchased in advance. The deadline for tickets is Feb. 20.
Visit http://usfsm.edu/duvall  for information and tickets. Scroll to the link, “Register for the 2019 Family Studies Conference.”