VCU symposium held today focuses on young people and substance abuse

(Photo screenshot via Attorney General of Virginia/YouTube)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A town hall held Friday at Virginia Commonwealth University is bringing together experts on substance abuse, addiction and treatment to discuss the latest research, share knowledge and hold a dialogue about the epidemic.

“We know substance use touches all parts of our society. We want to create a space for students, family members, community members, staff, faculty, local professionals and scientists to hear different perspectives on a very complex topic,” said organizer Tom Bannard, program coordinator for Rams in Recovery at the Wellness Resource Center and administrative director for the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute at VCU.

“In the midst of the current opiate crisis,” he said, “this is an important opportunity to further the conversation in our community about substance use and young people.”

The event, “From Research to Rehab: A Town Hall Meeting on Substance Use and Young People,” is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Click here to register.

“A lot of times there is a gap between what researchers know and what both the public and professionals are able to access,” Bannard said. “There is also often a gap between what is happening on the streets and what is being studied in the lab. Bringing this diverse group of people together will help us to close that gap and build better systems of care.”

The symposium is being organized by COBE, which was launched by the College of Humanities and Sciences in November. Their mission is to promote behavioral and emotional health in college communities through the collaboration of research with coursework, programming and policy related to behavioral and emotional health.

“One of the things we’re trying to do through COBE is use the tremendous research expertise that exists at VCU in the area of substance use and mental health outcomes to benefit our community,” said COBE Director Danielle Dick, Ph.D., a professor in the Departments of Psychology, African American Studies, and Human and Molecular Genetics.

“This symposium is an effort to bring together VCU researchers, outside speakers and members of both our VCU and Richmond community to have a dialogue about substance use challenges and how we can work together to make a difference in the lives of our young people,” she said.

As part of the event, Justin Luke Riley, executive director of the nonprofit Young People in Recovery, will deliver a closing keynote address, “The Young People’s Recovery Movement,” at 12:15 p.m.

Click here to see the full agenda and more information.

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