PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In response to the bath salts epidemic sweeping the state, a group of Northern Maine Community College students has organized a symposium to educate the public on the impact the designer drug has on users, their families and the community.
“Halt the Salts” will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the Edmunds Conference Center at NMCC. Free and open to the public, the symposium consists of three segments. “Impact on the Community,” which will be held from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., will be led by Det. Bill Scull of the Presque Isle Police Department and Dr. Michael Faloon of The Aroostook Medical Center.
“Impact on the Family,” led by Becky Bolstridge of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., while Lela Lyons, licensed alcohol and drug counselor with Hope Recovery Services, and Kari Wells-Puckett, attorney with Bemis & Rossignol, will address “Impact on the User” from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Segments should run about an hour each with an opportunity for speakers to share some information and answer audience questions with a break before the next segment continues.
Organizers Mallory Ferrier, Brooke Lunney, James Morrow and Karin Petrin — students in a leadership class in the college’s business administration program — have put together a survey to help gather questions from the audience in advance. People are encouraged to go online to www.surveymonkey.com/s/BSGL8P3 to answer nine short questions and add a question of their own, to have answered as part of the event. They also have established a Facebook event page titled “Halt the Salts,” and a website located at www.haltthesalts.info for more information.
“Unlike many other events of this type, this event intends to answer questions related to how this drug affects all members of the community. Most recently, the local news reported MDEA seized over a pound of bath salts within our community,” Petrin said. “Although there are people who still question what the drug is, many have enough information to form an educated guess. Information will be available for people who would prefer to speak one-on-one with panel members or are seeking resources to help someone afflicted by them.”
Petrin said it’s important for the community to become part of the solution to the growing problem of bath salts in the area.
“The messages playing on media channels are lost. They instill fear in the population or fall on deaf ears as people continue to convince themselves that ‘this doesn’t affect me,’” she said. “Unfortunately, lies like those have led to the exacerbation of the problem, not the resolution of it. Our intent is to show how this epidemic affects every community member, not just the users or their families.”
Pamphlets and informational packets will be made available at the symposium.