Opioid forum engages, educates students


Elias Stoddard (right) and Raymond Crowel (left) answer questions during a Q&A at the Feb. 26 Montgomery County Save a Life Opioid Forum. They provided important facts about the extent of the opioid crisis, such as the fact that deaths due to opioid overdose doubled in the county from 2015 to 2016, and have continued to rise throughout 2017. Photo by Sydney Miler.

By Sydney Miller

The Maryland Department of Health and Human Services held the Save a Life Montgomery Opioid and Substance Abuse Community Forum at Kennedy High School Feb. 26 to educate students and adults on the dangers of opioid use.

The event consisted of two separate presentations: one catered to students and the other for adults and parents.

The presentation for students consisted of a Jeopardy-style game about common misconceptions concerning opioids.

“The game format was a lot better than people just talking at me for two hours,” senior Zach Brown said. “It made the presentation more bearable and interesting.”

Some of the questions included true or false statements such as “legal drugs are less dangerous than illegal drugs,” which only half the students attending were able to identify as false.

Andy Jillson, a Maryland Department of Health and Human Services employee, delivered the student presentation. Raymond Crowel and Elias Stoddard, other Health and Human Services representatives, then held an open Q&A session with both the students and adults.

Crowel reinforced Jillson’s presentation by providing statistics, pointing out that opioid deaths doubled countywide from 2015 to 2016, and the numbers continued to increase throughout 2017.

Jillson said he enjoys presenting to students because he believes he has the ability to deliver the information in an interesting way. This way, students are more engaged and open to understanding the facts they hear about the opioid crisis.

“If there’s one takeaway I want kids to have from this, it’s that I want them to be informed of the dangers of prescription and illegal drugs and know what to do if they or a friend get involved in these dangerous drugs,” Jillson said. “They need to know how much of a crisis this is, but also how they, personally, can help out by helping just one person.”