Leonardtown, MD – St. Mary’s County Public Schools, in partnership with the Sheriff’s Office and other agencies, hosted three seminars focused on the drug abuse epidemic in St. Mary’s County. The seminars were designed to educate parents and students about the trends associated with drug misuse; the students led one seminar.

At the Parent Drug Misuse and Abuse Seminar, held March 17, 2016, all eyes were on Captain Daniel Alioto, as he displayed a photo of a spoon with two hypodermic needles. “Often,” Alioto told his audience, “we talk with parents who started to notice the only thing left in their kitchen drawer is forks and knives. The signs of drug abuse will be there.”

“In 2008,” Alioto went on to explain, “There were a tremendous amount of overdoses caused by prescription medications. At that time, there was no demand for heroin. When our detectives started shutting down the suppliers and doctor shoppers, that’s when we started to see the shift.”

Alioto noted that heroin, which is often brought to St. Mary’s County from Annapolis and Baltimore, is on the rise because it’s much cheaper than pills, easier to obtain, and more powerful. One 30 mg pill can cost a drug abuser $30, and often addicts need to take multiple pills per day to maintain their addiction. A single bag of heroin from Baltimore could cost as little as $5 and be up to 10 times more powerful.

“This is a community problem,” Alioto told his audience. “At times during search warrants, we encounter three generations of opioid abusers in the home. From the agency’s position,” he added, “We continue to address this epidemic head-on realizing the need to review our data and trends to refocus our energies and resources. Our success comes from our partnerships within this room: the parents, students, and community leaders.”

The partnership Alioto spoke of couldn’t have been any more evident than it was the next day at the student summit. Held at the Forrest Career and Technology Center, and led by students, the summit was supported by a network of partners, including the Sheriff’s Office, the Health Department, the Department of Aging & Human Services, and Walden-Sierra.

“The Youth Summit was such a success due to the strong partnership we have with the Sheriff’s office and all the community organizations who work tirelessly to improve the lives of those most at-risk. The summit’s central message of “Changing our Culture” and “Building Resiliency” requires us to all come together for this work. That is exactly what we are doing,” said Mr. J. Scott Smith, Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Schools.

During this seminar, Captain Alioto presented the student board president, Sarita Lee, with prizes for a raffle provided by the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.

This is the second year the County Commissioners have collaborated on allocating funding which supports Substance Misuse Prevention Initiatives. The initiatives are designed to change the culture surrounding substance misuse in St. Mary’s County. In a major show of support, this summit was attended by representatives of all of the partners in the coalition.

A representative of Vice/Narcotics and Walden-Sierra presented on April 7, 2016, at a summit held in conjunction with the Head Start Health and Wellness Fair.

The partnership between St. Mary’s County Public Schools and the Sheriff’s Office are strong, sustained, and consistent. The two are partnering together again to bring the community the 6th Annual D.A.R.E. Camp, which educates children about the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, and violence. The camp is a FREE four-day camp for upcoming 5th and 6th graders. The camp will take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., from July 11-14, 2016, at Leonardtown High School.

For more information contact Corporal Angela Delozier at Angela.Delozier@stmarysmd.com.