Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Qlarant Hosted Lunch and Learning on Opioid Abuse

Left to right: Lucie Hughes, Tidewater Rotary; Rebecca Combs, Qlarant CFO; Sheriff Joe Gamble; Dr. Ron Forsythe, Qlarant CEO; Deb Keller, Qlarant VP

On Thursday September 27, Qlarant hosted a Lunch and Learn event featuring Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble discussing the Talbot Goes Purple substance abuse awareness campaign. Associates took time out to meet with Sheriff Gamble and discuss issues and concerns about the effects of the opioid crisis on the people of Talbot County and across the nation. This continuing effort dovetails with Qlarant’s recent discussions with national leaders in Washington, DC.

“We are happy to host Sheriff Gamble and the Talbot Goes Purple Awareness Campaign here at our corporate headquarters,” said Qlarant CEO Dr. Ron Forsythe. “As we work to address the national concerns, it’s valuable to see that this issue has an impact so close to home. The efforts of the Sheriff’s Department and Tidewater Rotary to inform and empower the teens and parents of the area to initiate change is powerful and impressive.”

The program promotes discussions between teens and parents encouraging activities to teach the youth of the county to avoid drug and alcohol abuse along with education about the dangers of recreational use of prescription painkillers. According to Sheriff Gamble, most of the more than 100 young people he interviewed had become addicted to heroin by way of abusing prescription painkillers. He related several personal stories of young people who were good students, excellent athletes, and well-behaved being introduced through casual drug or alcohol use to a progression leading to serious drug use and addiction.

“Our Opioid Innovations Team continually looks for opportunities where we can support local and regional law enforcement in their efforts to fight the Opioid Epidemic,” said Sandy Love, Qlarant President. “Qlarant’s combination of analytical capabilities combined with our pharmacy subject matter expertise uniquely positions us to assist our law enforcement partners with data analytics and trial testimony support.”

According to Sheriff Gamble, the project is based upon THP Project Purple, an initiative of The Herren Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation established by former NBA basketball player, Chris Herren, that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction. Talbot Goes Purple is an initiative from Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools and Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Ms. Lucie Hughes represented the Tidewater Rotary at the event.

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: The Spiritual Journey from Addiction to Recovery by Rev. Kevin Cross

September is National Recovery Month. This month presents an opportunity for us to think about how this disease is impacting our society, families, and ourselves. You have been hearing a lot about addiction and recovery as the second annual Project Purple campaign is underway in our community. Last year’s inaugural Project Purple was so successful in Talbot county that it has spread to counties throughout the eastern shore.

There are many ways to understand the disease of addiction Our understanding of this disease has become increasingly more complex. This disease has also become more and more pervasive, impacting every demographic of our society. It has become especially critical for every one of us to understand this disease with the arrival of the opiate pandemic.Nowadays, there are few in our community who have been left untouched by the disease of addiction.

Addiction is a complex disease. It has genetic, biochemical, psychological, social, and spiritual components. I would like to briefly address the spiritual aspects of this disease. I find a useful definition that focuses on the spiritual aspects of this disease to be that addiction is “A pathological relationship of love and trust with an object or an event.” (C. Nakken) This disease transforms health into dysfunction. The mutuality and choice found in a healthy relationship changes to self-absorption and compulsion. The relationship with an object (alcohol, drugs gambling…) replaces people. Once begun, a spiral of downward movement of disengagement from life is set in motion.

If addiction does not start out of a spiritual deficiency /disease it quickly becomes one. Addiction is a deadly disease because it attacks the very core or essence of who we are. In other words, it attacks our spirit. Addiction has a major impact on spiritual life through attacking the healthy relationships between self, others, and God. Consequently, restoring a healthy spiritual life is critical to the recovery from the disease. Bill W. understood this when he was constructing the 12-step program “after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual of life – or else.” (The Big Book pg 44) The 12-step program is a spiritual journey of recovery.

Addiction is a pervasive disease that is very difficult to treat. Even when the alcoholic/addict is in recovery the disease continues to progress. Therefore, it is essential s to ensure one’s spiritual life is deepening and growing at a faster rate than the underlying addiction. A.A. has a joke about this point:

“While you are in recovery, your addiction is doing push-ups, so it can whip you the next chance it gets.”

One of the paths to recovery is the 12-Step program that started with Alcoholics Anonymous. It may interest you to know that the 12-step programs have their foundation in the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Sam Shoemaker of Calvary Episcopal Church in NYC was a spiritual adviser to Bill Wilson. He worked with Bill W. on developing A.A.’s 12-Step Program. The theology of the 12-Step program is grounded in a tradition of deep spirituality. While the 12-Step program is often thought of as only applicable for those who suffer from one of the many forms of addiction, it offers a profound, life changing spiritual journey to all.

In my experience, those impacted by this illness are wonderful, talented, and compassionate human beings. And, when in recovery, one sees a level of acceptance and honesty being brought into “real” relationships that is to be admired. We have all have much to learn from the journeys of those on the path to recovery. Clearly working with our brothers and sisters who suffer from addiction is not just a job for doctors and counselors. They are certainly critically important, but it is also where we, the community and the church, belong. Healthy relationships are critical to successful recovery. God has not abandoned them in their struggle and we cannot either. God is there with them in their suffering and in their victories of recovery – we should be there as well.

We are all seekers. We all have a spiritual life. Unfortunately, we often look and listen in the wrong places to nurture our spiritual life and give meaning to our lives. Just as the prophet Elijah looked for God in the big events occurring around him: strong wind; earthquake; fire; we too look to find meaning in consumerism, thrills, and all too frequently in activities that result in addictions. We, like Elijah, often look in the wrong places for the transcendence that our souls seek. It was in the silence that Elijah finally found God. It was in the still, small voice. We too need to seek out where we may find that voice that will bring real meaning in life.

As you travel the eastern shore this month, as you see the purple lights, take a moment to pray for recovery for those individuals and families suffering from this disease. But also open your hearts to them, open the doors of your faith community to them. There is that well-worn phrase “it takes a village” that applies here. It takes a village to offer hope and recovery. It takes kind hearts and spiritual nourishment of faith to support healthy recovery.

The Rev. Kevin M. Cross is priest and rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Oxford. In addition to holding a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work he also has training from the Hazelden and Betty Ford Recovery Centers. Fr. Kevin brought Recovery Ministries to the eastern shore upon his arrival in 2010. He is past president of Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church has sponsored both national and local conferences on the spiritual work of recovery.

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: “If Only” Co-writer and Producer James Wahlberg in Talbot County this Week

As a part of the Talbot Goes Purple campaign Talbot County Public Schools, in partnership with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department and the Tidewater Rotary Club, will host presentations by James Wahlberg this week.  Mr. Wahlberg co-wrote and co-produced “If Only,” to encourage an open dialogue between parents and children about prescription drug misuse and opioid addiction. He is Executive Director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, and has also been working in and around the field of addiction recovery for nearly 30 years.

Mr. Wahlberg can be seen at Easton High School on Tuesday September 25 and St. Michaels Middle High School Wednesday September 26.  Both performances begin at 6:30 with doors opening at 6:00 and a resource fair beginning at 5:30.


Queen Anne’s County Public Schools Hosts “Purple Friday”

On Friday, September 28, the Queen Anne’s County School District will “Go Purple” in support of the QAC Goes Purple campaign to build awareness of the critical opioid epidemic facing the community. “Purple Friday” at the schools will support the prevention effort lead by the QAC Sheriff’s Office and the QAC Drug-Free Coalition. Staff and students in all buildings, and at central office, are encouraged to wear purple to show their support of this countywide initiative.

Queen Anne’s County Public Schools is committed to helping parents and students learn about the importance of preventing the use of opioids, and empowering youth to take a stand against all substance abuse.

“To curb this epidemic, prevention is the key,” said Dr. Andrea Kane, Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools. “Addiction afflicts so many in this county, and our task with students is to give them age-appropriate information, encourage them to make good life decisions, and prevent a future of addiction.”

A “Purple Poster” contest will also be launched for the best message against substance abuse. Prizes will be awarded for the winning poster from elementary, middle and high school categories with a winner announced in November. To encourage participation in the schools’ Purple Friday campaign, the Kent Island Chick-fil-A restaurant is also participating with an extended offer: anyone wearing purple to Chick-fil-A on September 28 will receive a free cookie or ice cream cone with the purchase of a meal via the Chick-fil-A app, as a mobile order or in-store scan.

The QAC Go Purple project is based on THP Project Purple, an initiative of the Herren Project, founded by former NBA player Chris Herren, who struggled with drug dependency. Through his journey and recovery, Herren has become a powerful motivational speaker on substance abuse.  He is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. on November 13 at Kent Island High School in Stevensville. This event is free and open to the public. In addition to the evening event, Herron is set to speak at two in-school assemblies that week.

QAC Goes Purple is an initiative from the Queen Anne’s County Office of the Sheriff and Queen Anne’s County Drug-Free Coalition, in partnership with the Opioid Intervention Team/QAC Department of Health, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, Queen Anne’s County Commissioners and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. For more information on the campaign, visit QACGoesPurple.org.

Mid-Shore Goes Purple in Caroline County Schools with Superintendent Patricia Saelens

While all ages, all races, all incomes, and all education levels are being fully impacted by the opioid crisis on the Mid-Shore, perhaps the most pain caused by this epidemic are on its kids. Whether it be the actual death of a parent of a drug overdose, the fear that a living parent may be at risk of dying,  or the ongoing stress of living in a home where a relative is using drugs, it is the children who may suffer the most. And nowhere is that felt more than in a small county school district like Caroline County.

Dr. Patricia Saelens, who has been with the Caroline School District for close to three decades, thought she had seen the worst when she noticed the devastation on students caused by alcohol abuse. That was also true when cocaine invaded the county a few years later but never before has Dr. Saelens faced something as horrific as this current wave of fentanyl-laced drugs and other opioids.

The Spy talked recently to the superintendent on the drug crisis impact on Caroline County schools and how educators play a pivotal role in helping kids and their families, while also joining forces with community partners on prevention and awareness.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Caroline County Public Schools please go here.


Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Going Deeper on How to Change Treatment for Opioid Addiction

With the Mid-Shore now in the middle of its Purple public awareness campaign of the horrors of opioid addiction, there is a logical question to ask if there are any new breakthroughs in the actual treatment of those that suffer this terrible fate.

That is why the Spy was interested in a article on Axios over the weekend that addressed that question.  Here is some of recommendations:

Get People into the System

People with opioid use disorder frequently end up in a hospital, or in the criminal justice system, but those institutions often just handle the crisis in front of them and move on. They should act as a pipelines to help get people into treatment programs, experts said.

  • “It’s not as if people with opioid use disorder aren’t involved in the health care system, it’s that their addiction goes under the radar,” said John Hopkins’ Caleb Alexander.
  • A recent study found that only 30% of people revived by an EMT or in an emergency room after an overdose received medication to help treat their underlying addiction.

The solutions: The justice system could offer or require addiction treatment more often, and doctors could be better trained to recognize and respond to addiction.

  • “Right now we have silos of care outside of medicine. Methadone and [buprenorphine] clinics should be right next to emergency rooms,” said Stanford’s Anna Lembke.

Make the most effective treatments available

Experts agree that medication-assisted treatment works — and that it works even better when paired with psychotherapy and long-term care. But those services aren’t always accessible.

  • “Any of the major leaders in this movement will tell you that 50% of the providers out there do not practice the evidence-based medicine,” said Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman who is now a mental health advocate.
  • Many doctors aren’t prepared for patients with opioid use disorder, and few medical schools teach addiction medicine, the New York Times recently reported.

The solutions“Increasing the oversight to ensure that all folks get access to MAT + evidence based psychosocial treatment as a condition of insurance reimbursement, especially with Medicaid, would be a good first step,” said Jay Unick of the University of Maryland.

  • Congress’ opioid bills would let doctors prescribe MAT to more patients at the same time, and would provide loan repayment as an incentive for providers to work in facilities that treat substance use disorder.
  • Expanding telemedicine would also increase access to treatment for people who don’t live near a qualified provider.

Dispense at pharmacies and syringe exchanges. Make it free. These medications should be cheaper and easier to access than heroin. Not the other way round,” said Leo Beletsky, a Northeastern University law professor.

Make Treatment More Affordable

Insurance often doesn’t cover addiction treatment, and even if it does, it doesn’t cover it long-term. Federal law requires insurers to provide the same coverage for mental health services as they do for physical health, but those rules are often poorly enforced.

  • “Until there is real parity and doctors and/or hospitals are incentivized to provide this treatment, they will continue to prescribe pills and do procedures and surgeries, because that is what pays,” Lembke said.

The solutions: Experts suggested more stringent enforcement of state and federal mental health parity laws, which should lead to better-designed insurance plans.

  • “The barriers are inadequate networks of addiction medicine, pain medicine and related mental health and cognitive behavioral health services,” said Jack Deutsch of the American Medical Association.

Medicaid plays a big role here, too. Medicaid paid for more addiction treatment than all private insurers combined in 2014.

  • More states should adopt the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts said.
  • The House’s opioids bill would also roll back a federal ban on Medicaid funding for treatment facilities that have more than 16 beds.

Read the full article here

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Shore Health’s President Uses Video to Highlight Staff Commitment

One of the unexpected results of the Purple drug awareness campaign on the Mid-Shore is the innovative ways in which organizations are trying to get their message out. In the case of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, its president and CEO Ken Kozel opted to use a video format to broadcast to Shore’s employees, patients, and the general public, the health system’s steadfast commitment to help end this local epidemic.

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Talbot County and Schools Present “Healing Neen” September

Tonier “Neen” Cain lived for 20 years on the streets filled with hunger, brutality and substance abuse. Incarcerated and pregnant in 2004, someone finally took the time to ask: “what happened to you?” instead of “what’s wrong with you?”

On September 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Easton High School Auditorium, Talbot County Department of Social Services is sponsoring an event, “Creating a Conversation about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Building Resiliency,” featuring speaker, Tonier “Neen” Cain-Muldrow, a trauma survivor and internationally-recognized Trauma Informed Care Expert.

The event, which will be held in collaboration with the Talbot County Health Department, Talbot County Public Schools, and Talbot Goes Purple, will educate the public about the impact of trauma on the brain and building resilience. The evening will include the airing of the award-winning film, “Healing Neen,” which describes the devastating impact of childhood abuse and Ms. Cain-Muldrow’s emergence from drug addiction, incarceration and homelessness. The evening will also feature remarks from Cain-Muldrow and an ACE master trainer who will discuss the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on the brain and the factors that build resilience.

Tonier Cain-Muldrow’s work has focused on heightening awareness of the characteristics and effects of trauma and improving the performance of service providers, businesses, government agencies and others who interact with trauma victims and survivors.

According to Linda Webb, director of Talbot County Department of Social Services, “We think this program will speak to every age group in every socio-economic level in our community. This topic should resonate not only with human service providers, but with those in business, as well, as we explore the connection between investing in early childhood and lifelong outcomes that impact the health of Talbot County’s workforce.

We hope this film, ‘Healing Neen,’ will be the first in a series of community education events that will begin a conversation about how untreated trauma affects individuals and society at-large, including mental health problems, addiction, homelessness and incarceration, as well as how we can mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences so children can grow into healthy, resilient and productive members of our community. The event is free to the public. The first 200 participants will also receive a copy of the book, “Healing Neen.” For further information, call 410-770-5750.


Women and Girls Fund’s Purple Grants in Action: Rising Above Disease with Bonnie Scott

As noted in our first Women & Girls Fund Goes Purple interview Sherry Collier with Restoring H.O.P.E. in Women it could be said that the  WGF has been wearing purple a long time before Talbot Goes Purple started their successful awareness campaign last year. A philanthropic organization committed to empowering women and girls; it also seeks to help with the unique health needs, both physical and mental, of women in our community who are trying to rebuilding their lives after a life of drug or alcohol abuse.

In the Spy’s ongoing Grants in Action series with the WGF, we turn our attention to Rising Above Disease’s women-only recovery house founded by Bonnie Scott.

WGF board member Talli Oxnam once again introduces Bonnie and her extraordinary personal journey from addiction to recovery, and her commitment to supporting women as a tribute to her son who tragically lost his life due to a drug overdose a few years ago.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Rising Above Disease please go here

This is the ten in a series of stories focused on the work of the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore. Since 2002, the Fund has channeled its pooled resources to organizations that serve the needs and quality of life for women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. The Spy, in partnership with the Women & Girls Fund, are working collaboratively to put the spotlight on twelve of these remarkable agencies to promote their success and inspire other women and men to support the Fund’s critical role in the future.

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Talbot Takes to the Streets

In some cases, the images of a community coming together on a particular cause are more powerful than words. And that was the case last night as Talbot Goes Purple kicked off a month of programing at the Talbot County Courthouse with a walk on the streets of Easton.

The Spy was there to capture these moving scenes.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on Talbot Goes Purple please go here


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